May 20, 2013 by toursbybecca
Celebrating our nation’s holidays in our nation’s capital is always a special, unforgettable experience. One of our most special holidays in Memorial Day, which started following the American Civil War. In those early years, it was known as Decoration Day. In the 20th century, the holiday was renamed Memorial Day and extended to honor veterans of all wars. With Memorial Day weekend almost upon us, here are some of my suggestions and tips for enjoying the long weekend in Washington, DC. For some tips on using the Metro system to attend any of events during the weekend (which I highly recommend – parking will be scarce!), take a look at my Newbie’s Guide to Metro post.
If you’re interested in seeing the sites with me personally, email me at toursbybecca [at] gmail [dot] com – mention this blog post and receive a special Memorial Day weekend discount!
National Memorial Day Parade
This is a signature event for Memorial Day and one that should not be missed! Brought to our nation’s capital in 2005, this parade is an opportunity to embrace the real meaning of Memorial Day – honoring our nation’s heroes. The parade starts at 2:00 pm on Monday, May 27th and the route travels down Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th Streets – any place along the avenue is an excellent spot to show your support for our brave men and women who have served in uniform.
National Memorial Day Concert
This is hands-down the most highly attended Memorial Day event and takes some planning if you’re hoping to attend. The concert takes place on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol Building, a short walk from the Capitol South, L’Enfant or Smithsonian Metro Stations. Gates open at 5:00 pm – be there at 5:00 pm if you hope to get in. You will need to go through security, so keep bags to a minimum and leave the weapons at home. Even if you can’t make it to D.C., the concert airs live on PBS on Sunday, May 26th at 8:00 pm.
Throughout the Memorial Day weekend, thousands of veterans and their families and supporters roll into town – literally – to honor the fallen. The events start with a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial on Friday, May 24th with the official Run taking place on Sunday, May 26th at 9:00 am. It’s always a powerful experience and there are many ways you can show your support throughout the weekend. You can find more details about the events and the Rolling Thunder run here.
Arlington National Cemetery
There will be both a wreath-laying ceremony and a Memorial Day observance program at Arlington National Cemetery – both are free and open to the public and do not require tickets. However, expect crowds and standing room only – this is another very popular event. Gates open at the cemetery at 8:00 am – free shuttles will run from the Visitor’s Center to the Amphitheater – no walking will be permitted. Music begins at 10:30 am and the ceremony begins at 11:00 am. For information on the event, including the security protocols, click here.
There are numerous wreath layings taking place throughout the weekend. On Monday, May 27th, there will be a 9 am wreath laying at the Air Force Memorial and the World War II Memorial, a 1 pm wreath laying at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, and several wreath laying at the Navy Memorial. These are all open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis and they will be standing room-only events.