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Memorial Day weekend brings events solemn and festive to Fairfax County

The National Museum of the U.S. Army will be open to the public for Memorial Day for the first time (courtesy NMUSA/Flickr)

As a holiday, Memorial Day is a bit of a contradiction.

Coming on Monday (May 30), the actual day is a somber occasion, tracing its origins back to the post-Civil War era as a way to honor military service members killed in war. With the weather heating up and schools winding down, however, Memorial Day has long also been treated as an unofficial kick-off for summer.

After a couple of more subdued years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Memorial Day 2022 will have plenty to offer Fairfax County residents, whether you plan to spend the weekend commemorating a loved one or are just itching to relax and eat some barbecue.

The National Army Museum

The National Museum of the U.S. Army will be open to the public for Memorial Day weekend for the first time since it launched at Fort Belvoir on Veteran’s Day in 2020.

In addition to holding a remembrance at 10 a.m. and a moment of silence at 3 p.m. on Monday, the museum has a full slate of activities planned throughout the weekend:

  • Poppy Paper Flower-Making: Craft red poppies out of paper for a special Memorial Day display, and learn how the flower came to symbolize remembrance for fallen service members
  • Operation Safe Passage: A role-playing experience where players train to provide a humanitarian response to a simulated earthquake. 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Normally reserved for groups, the activity will be open to children 7 and older with an adult. Advance registration is required.
  • Hands-On History: Explore Army equipment and uniforms from different eras between 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. each day.
  • “Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day”: Screenings of the documentary about World War II veterans who return to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day will be followed by Q&A sessions with filmmaker Charlotte Juergens. Registration required.
  • The Army Historical Foundation Book Sale: New and used military books will be on sale Friday through Sunday (May 27-29) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Viva! Vienna!

After slimming down last year, the Town of Vienna’s annual Memorial Day weekend festival returns bigger than ever with the addition of a Backstage Brewfest.

A charity event organized by the Rotary Club of Vienna, Viva Vienna will unfold in its familiar location along Church Street, which will be closed to traffic between Lawyers Road and Mill Street on Sunday and Monday.

Amusement rides, a food court, and live entertainment will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with artisan and craft vendors joining the party at 10 a.m. Sunday. There will be a Memorial Day tribute at 1 p.m. on Monday, and the festival will end at 6 p.m. that day.

New for this year, the Backstage Brewfest will be held at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department (400 Center Street South) from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There will be food, beer, wine, and live bands, similar to the annual Taste of Vienna.

Drink tickets start at $5 through the end of Friday, after which they go up to $6.

Memorial Day Ceremonies

  • Great Falls Freedom Memorial: Located behind Great Falls Library (9830 Georgetown Pike), the 11 a.m. ceremony will feature patriotic songs, a keynote speech from retired Army general David H. Huntoon, Jr., and a bell-ringing and name-reading for Great Falls residents killed in war.
  • Herndon: The Town of Herndon will observe Memorial Day at 10 a.m. with a ceremony at Chestnut Grove Cemetery (831 Dranesville Road) led by American Legion Post 184.
  • McLean: American Legion Post 270 will hold its annual Memorial Day event at 11 a.m. at the McLean High School memorial garden (1633 Davidson Road).
  • Fairfax City: Starting at 10:30 a.m., American Legion Fairfax Post 177 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8469 will present colors, provide comments, and read names in Old Town Square (10415 North Street).

Other Local Events

  • Ride of the Patriots: Now in its 22nd year, the annual brigade of motorcyclists returns in full force after a smaller-scale 2021. Bikers will start staging outside Patriot Harley-Davidson (9739 Lee Highway) at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday and leave at 9 a.m. for Rolling to Remember at RFK Stadium in D.C.
  • Blast Off!: Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts hosts “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band on Sunday for a free concert at 8 p.m., followed by fireworks around 9:45 p.m. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.
  • Falls Church Memorial Day Parade & Festival: The City of Falls Church event returns for its 40th year on Monday. The festival starts at 9 a.m. with a 3K fun run, and the parade will follow at 2 p.m. There will also be a Memorial Day ceremony at 11 a.m., a band performance at 12:30 p.m., and an Inova blood drive.

Photo courtesy NMUSA/Flickr

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