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Honor America’s fallen heroes with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery this Memorial Day. See the U.S. flags placed at service members’ gravesites, placed by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). The Army’s ceremonial unit has continued the tradition known as “Flags in,” since 1948. Every available soldier in the regiment participates, until small U.S. flags adorn each headstone and the bottom of each niche row.
Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday of May, traditionally includes a formal ceremony involving the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The most solemn of wreath-laying ceremonies occurs when the president or his designee lays the wreath to mark the observance of Memorial Day.
The Presidential Armed Forces Full Honors Wreath-Laying Ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. May 29 at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and will be followed by the Department of Defense's observance program in Arlington's Memorial Amphitheater. About 5,000 visitors have attended past remembrance ceremonies in the cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater and the prelude concert that starts at 10:30 a.m. inside the amphitheater.
No tickets are required. Space is limited to standing room only for the wreath-laying ceremony and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the amphitheater. Attendees are encouraged to be at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or seated in the amphitheater by 9:30 a.m.
This year's Memorial Day weekend events include:
* Wreath Ceremonies: More than 400 motorcyclists will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier May 27. And more than 150 American Legion riders will participate in a wreath ceremony at the Civil War Unknown Monument.
* Sunrise Photo Shoot: Capture the amazing view of the sunrise over Washington, D.C. when the cemetery will host a sunrise photo shoot availability for the public. Registration is required.
* JFK's Birthday: The U.S. Army Military District of Washington will host an Armed Forces Full Honors Wreath-Laying Ceremony in honor of President John F. Kennedy at his gravesite 8 a.m. May 29, marking Kennedy's 100th birthday.
At 11 a.m. May 21, Arlington National Cemetery will offer a free tour to explain the origins of Memorial Day. Tickets are required for the free tour, and a short introduction will be held at the cemetery’s Welcome Center before boarding the trolley for the tour.
You’ll see motorcyclists gathering throughout the area all weekend, or more likely hear the roar of engines.
The event called Rolling Thunder has drawn attention to service members who went missing in action and are still missing, or who were captured as prisoners of war and who have yet to be returned home.
Marking the 30th year of Rolling Thunder, motorcyclists will gather at 8 a.m. May 28 in the Pentagon’s north parking lot before a noon motorcade to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. A stage with speakers and music will be set up near the Reflecting Pool nearby the memorial.
If you’re planning to visit the region for any Memorial Day events, or just a start-of-summer getaway, you can reserve your room now in Arlington.
Author: Kathleen Murphy