The Washington Post
Memorial Day events that honor American troops
Nowhere in the country marks Memorial Day like Washington, where patriotic tributes are both solemn and emphatic. Here are some of the weekend’s highlights.
SATURDAY Battleground National Cemetery Memorial Day Commemoration
One of the smallest national cemeteries in the country is a one-acre sliver on Georgia Avenue NW. Battleground National Cemetery holds the remains of 40 Civil War soldiers who were killed defending Washington during the 1864 Battle of Fort Stevens and one Union veteran who chose to be buried there decades later. Every Memorial Day weekend, a ceremony — Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon — includes the reading of the names of the dead and a flag-laying ceremony.
SUNDAY National Memorial Day Concert
This concert, on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Sunday night and televised nationally on PBS, features the National Symphony Orchestra, military bands and Broadway stars Cynthia Erivo, Megan Hilty and Alfie Boe. Beyond music, there are tributes to the 70th anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, which allowed women to join the military, and the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Khe Sanh. Gates to the concert open at 5 p.m., and the concert begins at 8. No tickets are required, and attendees can bring food and nonalcoholic beverages. (Pro tip: If you can’t attend on Sunday, a dress rehearsal is held at 8 p.m. Saturday.)
Over Memorial Day weekend, the motorcycle riders of Rolling Thunder remember POWs and MIAs during what is billed as “the world’s largest single-day motorcycle event.” The main event is a ride that begins in the North Pentagon parking lot at noon Sunday and passes across Memorial Bridge, down Constitution Avenue to the Capitol and back to West Potomac Park, along Independence Avenue, followed by speeches near the Lincoln Memorial. The best viewing spots are near the Lincoln Memorial, where you can watch the sea of bikes flowing over the Memorial Bridge.
MONDAY Arlington National Cemetery
The 150th National Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday consists of two parts: a wreathlaying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 11 a.m., followed by a program of remembrance in the cemetery’s memorial amphitheater. ( The U. S. Navy Band will perform at the amphitheater beginning at 10:30 a.m.) Logistically, visitors should pick one part to attend: Organizers say attendees should be in place at the Tomb of the Unknowns or the amphitheater by 9:30 a.m. Admission is free and on a firstcome, first-admitted basis.
National Memorial Day Parade
The annual parade down Constitution Avenue NW features military units, veterans organizations, floats, fife-anddrum corps and marching bands. Guests and performers at this year’s parade, which begins at 2 p.m. Monday and stretches from Seventh to 17th streets NW, include members of the Tuskegee Airmen, country singers Trace Adkins and Jerrod Niemann, and Miss America Cara Mund.