On this Memorial Day, veterans and fallen heroes would be honored in the nation’s capital. Here’s the itinerary of the celebration:
- No Memorial Day in DC is complete without mentioning the National Memorial Day Parade. Started on since 2005, the parade is largest of its kind in the U.S. is put up by the American Veterans Center in honor of those servicemen and servicewomen who put their lives on the line of duty to protect our liberty. The event is to be on Constitution Avenue, it wows audiences that are more than 250,000 strong with active duty, retired military units and marching bands, youth groups, floats and scores of veterans. This year the parade is scheduled for Monday, 25th May, and would start at 2 p.m.
- Arlington National Cemetery hosts a variety of events to celebrate Memorial Day. If you want to be a part of its celebrations, then head to the Memorial Amphitheater at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 26th. An official Memorial Day service will be held, sponsored by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. Moreover, over a quarter million mini flags will be used to decorate the cemetery's headstones. For a better and more powerful tribute, you may head to the Tomb of the Unknowns. It is guarded by Tomb Guard Sentinels 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year. Hold on their for while and you’ll witness the impressive Changing of the Guard ceremony, which is conducted every half-hour until the cemetery closes at 7 p.m. At 4 p.m. The Women in Military Service for America Memorial, that is situated at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery, will conduct a ceremony. The ceremony includes formal military honors, wreath-layings, a keynote address and the signature event of the Memorial, the scattering of rose petals, a mark of tribute to the departed soldiers.
- A company of hogs throng the streets of DC each Memorial Day weekend for the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally. This “ride for freedom” attracts more than 900,000 motorcycle riders from all over the country who travel to honor POWs and MIAs. Besides, the riding rally being held on Sunday, May 24th, one of the main crowd-puller each year, there are other Rolling Thunder events on the anvil, too: a candlelight vigil is scheduled to be held on Friday, May 22; apart from that, a wreath-laying ceremony will be held too at the U.S. Navy Memorial on Saturday, May 23; and lastly, on Sunday evening, you can look forward to the Rolling Thunder’s Saluting Our Troops - a concert to be held near the Vietnam War Memorial.
- On Memorial Day eve, the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol undergoes a sea of change and is transformed into a patriotic concert venue. A free performance is put up to pay tribute to those who have served our country, and with a part of the evening being dedicated to honor our current active service members. This event will be one out of many opportunities for you to recognize and catch a glimpse of the active servicewoman or serviceman of our nation. As far as the concert is concerned, it will be co-hosted this year by Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise and Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna. These two actors who have taken on veterans causes in recent years, and their event is featured at the National Symphony Orchestra.
- You can stroll the National Mall this Memorial Day which is considered a must-do. To begin with, you can honor the most famous war general in U.S. history by visiting the Washington Monument. There, you can pay your deepest respects at the National World War II Memorial, created and dedicated in 2004. The memorium is etched with 58,621 soldiers’ names, while the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the brainchild of Maya Ying Lin, a 21 year-old architecture student at Yale in 1981. Next in your travel itinerary you can include a trek to the Lincoln Memorial to read one of the most powerful and widely-known speeches on sacrifice: the Gettysburg Address. A stone’s throw away is the Korean War Veterans Memorial that provides a unique empathetic experience with its 19 life-like, poncho-clad soldier statues.
- The DC War Memorial is a unique hidden gem on the National Mall. The domed structure was built in honor of the 26,000 Washington, DC residents who served during the World War I. The memorial was in a dilapidated state and was restored in 2011 thanks in part to Frank Buckles, the lone surviving American World War I veteran. The structure features Roman-style architecture with sturdy columns, and was originally dedicated in 1931 by then President Herbert Hoover. You’ll notice the almost all the 500 names that are engraved at the base of the memorial
- Not too far from the walls of Arlington National Cemetery, there is a permanent installation of one of the most iconic photographs of World War II: Raising the Flag on Iowa Jima. The Marine Corps War Memorial (better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial) was built as an homage to all marines who have died defending the U.S. since 1775. This scene was originally made public in 1951 and provides a sweeping view of the DC skyline.