It’s always our pleasure to assist the many military reunion groups meeting in Fairfax County, Virginia, each year in making arrangements for their memorial services.
Many groups elect to hold their memorial service at the hotel where the group is staying, usually in the hotel’s ballroom, or on a landscaped terrace out-of-doors if the weather is pleasant. One of the more memorable such reunions was the one held here in February 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima. Approximately 350 people attended the weekend-long reunion at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia. Of those attending, approximately 75 were US Marines who had fought on Iwo Jima; other attendees were friends, spouses, children and grandchildren of those who had fought in the battle. The group’s memorial service was held in the hotel’s grand ballroom on Sunday morning; Gen. Michael W. Hagee, the Commandant of the Marine Corps at the time, was the featured speaker at the group’s banquet. The reunion received considerable press attention, given the significance of the battle.
Many Army groups choose to hold memorial services at General George Washington’s tomb, located on the grounds of his Mount Vernon estate in Fairfax County. General Washington and his wife Martha are entombed together in a crypt located in a tree-shaded glen, within walking distance of the General’s beloved Mount Vernon. The staff at Mount Vernon will schedule a time for your group to conduct a private memorial service, as well as provide a wreath for the ceremony. A copy of General Washington’s “Prayer for His Country” is provided, and is traditionally read aloud by the oldest surviving member of the group. (www.mountvernon.org)
National Museum of the United States Army
Army groups may choose to hold a memorial service at the new National Museum of the United States Army, on the grounds of Fort Belvoir. The stunning Veterans Hall and the outdoor Medal of Honor Garden both offer private, quiet, reflective spaces ideal for a memorial service. Both spaces can be reserved in advance for private events. (www.thenmusa.org)
Navy reunion groups frequently hold memorial services at the United States Navy Memorial, located on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington, DC. The outdoor plaza of the memorial features a striking map of the globe, watched over by a statue of The Lone Sailor, representing all those who have ever served the United States upon the oceans of the world. The memorial is ringed by fountains commemorating the major Naval battles in American history, with quotations from well-known sailors etched into the marble walls. The Naval Heritage Center, adjacent to the memorial, features a small museum with an auditorium, reception area, exhibits, gift shop, and Naval research library. Allow time to tour the Heritage Center following your memorial service. Navy Memorial staff will assist groups in arranging for a memorial wreath, a chaplain to conduct the ceremony, if desired, and seating for group members. (www.navymemorial.org)
The United States Air Force Memorial
The United States Air Force Memorial, located in Arlington Virginia, towers above a high bluff overlooking Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, and the Washington, DC skyline. Memorial services are held on the memorial’s broad plaza, honoring those who have served in the Air Force or its predecessor organizations. The three soaring spires of the memorial tower above the plaza in a “bomb burst” formation. Air Force Memorial staff members are delighted to assist with scheduling, obtaining a wreath, seating, and providing a chaplain and/or a bugler, as the group desires. (www.airforcememorial.org)
Arlington National Cemetery
Groups representing all Armed Forces branches can hold wreath-laying services at the Tomb of the Unknowns, located in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. As the nation’s most revered military shrine, services here are particularly moving. (www.arlingtoncemetery.mil)
Visit Fairfax (Fairfax County Convention and Visitors Corporation) is always eager to assist military reunion planners by providing site tours of venues noted above, as well as arranging introductions to each venue’s professional staff. They can also assist in arranging group transportation between the group’s hotel, the site of their memorial service, and other area attractions.
About the Hospitality Answerman
Dean Miller, national sales director for Visit Fairfax (fxva.com), the convention and visitors bureau in Fairfax County, Virginia, is a great friend of reunions. Contact him (703-790-0643; [email protected]) when you are planning a reunion in the Washington, DC, area. Fairfax County is nearby, affordable, and conveniently located to all the area has to offer.