Celebrate Memorial Day at These Local Landmarks
The last Monday in May traditionally observes the memories of those who have fallen in battle for the sake of the United States. For many people, it marks a three-day weekend and means more time to hang out with family and friends. Since many people are related to a veteran, whether in the U.S. or abroad, it can also mark a time to remember the fallen and honor their passing.
Initially, Memorial Day was known as “decoration day” and was celebrated to remember those who died fighting in the Civil War. With the World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, Memorial Day became an official holiday. Flags are flown at half-staff until noon, and then are flown high for the rest of the day.
The Town of Vienna has a few memorials to aid teaching young ones about the holiday, honor fallen family members or friends, and to aid one’s own education. Furthermore, living in the town of Vienna means you are a few miles away from Arlington National Cemetary and other historical monuments to veterans.
Located near the Freeman House and the Vienna Centennial Park, the Veterans Memorial, a round pool of water holding three flags. The inscription reads: For Those Who Served Our Country and Community. During Viva! Vienna!, the town’s local festival that takes place on Memorial Day weekend, on Monday at 1 p.m a memorial day ceremony takes place. But Viva! Vienna! is not all solemn ceremonies–not at all! There are vendors, rides, events, entertainment, a brewfest, and more, with all of the proceeds going to the Vienna Rotary Club.
During the Civil War, the town of Vienna became the site for the nation’s first railroad war. Under the guidance of Brigadier General Robert Schenk, the First Ohio Regiment had to install telegraph lines along the railroad (which was not called the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad just yet!). Meanwhile, the First South Carolina volunteers, part of the Confederacy, had been assigned to burn down the railroad water tank in Vienna.
The Confederate troops hid and waited for the train to come by around where Park Street is now. Then when they heard the train whistle, they ambushed while the engineer uncoupled the passenger car and engine and drove back to Alexandria. The Union soldiers did not fare well and had to retreat. Six soldiers died in action.
A Blue-Star memorial by-way plaque in the park commemorates those who fell in battle.
The Marine Band at Wolf Trap
After a long day of checking out the Viva! Vienna! Festival, residents and visitors should book a ticket to see the President’s Own United States Marine Band at Wolf Trap, located down the street from the center of the town itself. For those who don’t have an early bedtime, a fireworks show will follow the concert. The price itself is free for the event.
Hidden Gems Not Far Away
Some of the lesser-known veteran memorials in Virginia are just a few miles away from the town of Vienna. In the Semper Fidelis Memorial Park of the Marine Corps Heritage Center in Triangle, Virginia, stands a bronze statue dedicated to Staff Sergeant Reckless, a mare that was also a marine. During the Korean War, in 1953, the horse made 51 trips to carry ammunition to the troops fighting in the Battle of Outpost Vegas/Vegas Hill. The horse received two battle wounds, but carried on in her duties. She received a purple heart, and was buried at Camp Pendleton with military honors. The Marine Corp Heritage Center is worth checking out, but the horse statue should be a must-see.
In Washington D.C., a little-known monument called the D.C. War Memorial stands to honor those that fell during the brutal battles of World War I. More than 26,000 residents of Washington D.C. served in World War I and were remembered through a domed marble memorial, dedicated by then-President Herbert Hoover. The memorial is free to visit.
In the city of Alexandria, further out, stands a memorial that commemorates Vietnam War veterans. Captain Humbert Roque Versace and 67 others had died or gone missing during the Vietname war. The city placed a statue of the Alexandria resident in front of the Mount Vernon Recreational Center, and installed a stone bench inscribed with the 67 other names.