Veterans Day in Washington, DC: how to spend your weekend

Lauren Warner
October 23, 2018 - 11:53 pm

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Fraser I U.S. Army


Veterans Day is a national holiday intended to honor veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States, not boost the economy with special sales. So, coming from someone who's been a part of nearly every ceremony in our nation's capital, here's a list of the best events around Washington, D.C. for those looking to respectfully observe Veterans Day.

Photo courtesy of Allison Connors

Wreath-Laying Ceremonies

Arlington National Cemetery
November 11 -- 11:00 am
A prelude concert begins in the Memorial Amphitheater at 10:30 a.m before the Veterans Day wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns followed by a ceremony inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the Tomb. 

Air Force Memorial
November 11 -- 11:00 am  
Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony at One Memorial Drive with a two-minute moment of silence to remember veterans killed in action.

Women In Military Service For America Memorial
November 11 -- 3:00 pm
Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Ceremonial Entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. This ceremony also honors women in the military with formal military honors, veterans' remarks, and a keynote address. 

Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

Vietnam Women's Memorial
November 10 -- 6:00 pm & November 11 -- 9:00 am - 2:30 pm
In observance of the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Women's Memorial dedication, there will be a candlelight vigil on the 10th, and a story event "In Their Words" that ties into the observance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial
November 11 -- 1:00 pm
Veterans Day Observance at the Wall

World War II Memorial
November 11 -- 9:00 am
Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony

U.S. Navy Memorial
November 12 -- 1:00 pm 
Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony

World War I Memorial at Pershing Park
November 8-12
In honor of the centennial of the Armistice ending WWI, the WWI Centennial Commission is hosting a number of events from film festivals to special recognition ceremonies for women, Hispanics, African-Americans and the ringing of the bells at 11:00 am on November 11 to mark the official signing of the Armistice.


Other Events

Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
November 11 -- 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
(Active duty military personnel and veterans are admitted free-of-charge on Veterans Day)

National Veterans Day Concert
Washington National Cathedral
November 11 -- 7:00 pm

Photo courtesy of the National Cathedral

100th Anniversary of Armistice Day
Woodrow Wilson House
November 11 -- 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Arlington Veterans Day Observation
November 11 -- 11:00 am
Arlington's annual Veterans Day commemoration is held at the American Legion War Memorial in Clarendon's Central Park and conducted by VFW Post 3150. 

Veterans of All Nations Gala: The Ties that Bind Us
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
November 11 -- 6:30 pm - 10:30 pm 
Mandarin Oriental Hotel


If events aren't your thing, here are a few options that aren't on a timeline or in a crowd.

The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial
The memorial honors the sacrifice of those who were disabled in service to this country across all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Located near the U.S. Botanical Garden, this memorial is easily accessible by Metro (Blue, Orange & Silver Lines).

The Korean War Memorial
While there is no wreath-laying here, the 19 stainless steel figures and the sandblasted images on the wall surrounding them create a space that invites reflection.

Marine Corps Memorial (aka the Iwo Jima Memorial)
Located right outside of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, this world famous statue depicts the raising of the second American flag signifying the conclusion of the American campaign in the Pacific during WWII.

Smithsonian National Museum of American History
The Museum of American History houses countless pieces of military history (including Washington's sword and chairs used by Lee and Grant duing the Civil War surrender ceremony). But they also host the first day of the Smithsonian Veterans Day Film Festival on November 10th in their Warner Bros. Theatre, as well as a concert commemorating the centennial of WWI called 'A Silent Night' (which is free, but tickets are required).

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
The Air & Space Museum is also hosting a Veterans Day Film Festival on November 11th in their IMAX theatre.

Image courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute

National Museum of American Jewish Military History
Located in Dupont Circle, this museum makes for a powerful Veterans Day visit, especially its core exhibit, Jews in the American Military. Included in this exhibit are a brain surgery kit from the Civil War, a diary from a Jewish POW and a Torah carried by a Jewish Army Chaplain on the Burma Trail.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Included in this newer addition to the National Mall are a number of exhibits highlighting the military contributions of African Americans. The Double Victory exhibit chronicles the military service of African Americans from the American Revolution through current conflicts.

National Museum of the United States Navy
Located on the Capitol Riverfront in the Old Naval Gun Factory, this museum showcases artifacts dating as far back as the War of 1812, including a Civil War ship wheel, Korean War-era uniforms and the foremast fighting top of the U.S.S. Constitution.

The Newseum is an entire museum built to celebrate and showcase the power of the First Amendment-- one of the many freedoms the Armed Forces fights to protect. (Additionally from Nov. 10-12, offers free admission to veterans & active duty personnel, plus one guest.)


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