Memorial Day weekend is a workout (in a good way). With the narrow exception of July 4th, this weekend has more significant events than any other. I did take Saturday off for some family time. Otherwise, here’s the narrative schedule:
Sunday, 630 a.m. Out the door and over to “Captain Pell’s” in Fairfax City for the annual “Ride of the Patriots” pre-rally Parade. The Parade runs along Route 50 and passes the long line of bikers heading to the Pentagon for “Rolling Thunder.” Thanks to the Fairfax High School Marching Band and Emerald Society (Fairfax County Firefighters) for the early morning music.
Sunday, 830 a.m. Post-parade, there are patriotic speeches at Patriot Harley Davidson at Fairfax Circle. Thousands of bikers are here from all points on the compass (lots of Texans for some reason). A lot of constituents are also here. The message of the weekend is to Remember the Fallen, Celebrate our Freedom. At 900 am, the bikes roar off down the highway. For the first time in years, I don’t ride along. Next year.
Sunday, 1-5 pm. It’s Viva Vienna! The street festival sponsored by Vienna Rotary lasts all day on Sunday-Monday, attracting nearly 50,000 visitors. I’m posted at my booth with Delegate Mark Keam under a blazing sun. I pace myself — one bottle of water an hour. Around 5 pm, I peel off and join my wife and kids at Villa Pool for a dive in.
Monday, 9 a.m. Legion Post 177 and VFW Post in Fairfax jointly hold their Memorial Day celebration on the courthouse lawn. There are several dozen veterans present along with a Boy Scout troop and most local officials. Together we read the names of the 350 Fairfax County citizens who have died in our nations’ wars. While I don’t know the deceased, I know the names of many old Fairfax families. It’s very powerful.
Monday, 10:30 a.m. Legion Post 180 in Vienna hosts its own Memorial Day celebration at the Flint Hill cemetery just outside Vienna. The Town Band does a great job of playing in the intense heat. Afterwards, there is a lunch at the Legion Post.
Monday, noon-5 pm. It’s back to the booth on Church Avenue, a.k.a. “Death Valley.” Monday is actually hotter than Sunday. Plus ninety degrees all day and there’s no shade. I keep drinking water. My wife stops by to put lotion on my face and neck. Despite the heat, there are still thousands of folks there. At 3 pm, Delegate Keam and I walk to the Town Green for a celebration sponsored by the Rotary. By the team the ceremony ends, some of the vendors are finally starting to pack up. At long last, the weekend is over.
Thanks to my Chief of Staff Kathy Neilson who managed to survive two full days in our Viva Vienna booth — and her husband Bruce that helped put it up and take it down.
Thanks also to all the groups (Patriot Harley, Post 177, VFW, Post 180 and Rotary) which keep alive and celebrate the true meaning of Memorial Day weekend. We’ll be back next year.