Last year, 2019, marked the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended WWI, and the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied landings along the Normandy coast during WWII.

The Town of Colonial Beach, Virginia (CBVA), in conjunction with the American Legion Colonial Beach Post 148, Dahlgren Heritage Foundation and Museum, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Potomac Chapter, and Northern Neck Tourism Commission, commemorated these events during the Northern Neck World War I & World War II Commemoration Day on Saturday, July 20, 2019. A full day and night of events were planned to honor and memorialize the veterans of those wars, their sacrifices, and contributions of the people at home; and to raise funds to help support veterans programs and military history preservation.

Events included:

An Opening Ceremony with AEGIS Training and Readiness Center Color Guard, Quantico Marine Corps Brass Quintet, and guest speakers, including Captain Michael O’Leary, Commanding Officer, Naval Support Activity South Potomac, and Senator Richard H. Stuart, who proudly served his nation in the United States Marine Corps and is the only enlisted member within the Virginia Senate. We met 95-year-old World War II Navy veteran Junior Morris, who served on the destroyer, USS Braine. And we heard the story of the Kamikaze attack on Morris and his shipmates and Junior’s heroic efforts to render aid to his wounded comrades.

Educational sessions and a discussion forum with regional historians, including those from Dahlgren Heritage Foundation. We learned the community’s history as it relates to WWI and WWII, notably the impact of Naval Proving Grounds in Dahlgren during WWII.

WWI & WWII Exhibit Opening Ceremony with US Congressman Rob Wittman, a member of the House Armed Services Committee since 2007 and currently serving on the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. A flyover by WWII planes from The Flying Circus Air Show formally kicked-off the afternoon’s activities.

Special events were held hourly. Exhibits, military memorabilia, Veterans Service Organizations and non-profits aimed to foster public knowledge and promote an appreciation for the immense scale of the world wars given the cost in lives lost; resources expended; physical destruction of land, facilities, and infrastructure; people impacted; and the resulting far-reaching changes to the worldwide political, cultural, and economic landscape.

National Museum of the Marine Corps: Preserves and exhibits the material history of the U.S. Marine Corps; honors the commitment, accomplishments, and sacrifices of Marines; supports recruitment, training, education, and retention of Marines; and provides the public with a readily accessible platform for the exploration of Marine Corps history.

Racing for Heroes and Racing for Warriors, empowering veterans through motorsports, health, wellness and employment opportunities.

  • Dahlgren Heritage Museum
  • WWI uniform and handkerchiefs from Museum at Colonial Beach
  • Talk and book signing by bestselling author John Gilstrap
  • Coast Guard Auxiliary
  • Book signing The Dark and Lonely Road by Sean Gates
  • Blanket Hearts, a charitable blanket ministry providing no-sew blankets
  • Northern Neck Coins & Antiques
  • Clear Captions call captioning products and services
  • U.S. Army Recruiting Station – Fredericksburg, VA
  • Commemorative Air Force
  • Craft beer tasting with Colonial Beach Brewing
  • Wine from Monroe Bay Vineyard
  • Food from Chief Petty Officers Association, Bright Eyes Concession, Ice Cream Hut

Silent Drill Platoon, Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon is a rifle platoon that performs a unique precision drill exhibition. This highly disciplined platoon exemplifies the professionalism associated with the United States Marine Corps. The Marines execute a series of calculated drill movements and precise handling of their hand-polished, 10-and-one-half pound, M1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets. The routine concludes with a unique rifle inspection sequence demonstrating elaborate rifle spins and tosses.


US Navy Ceremonial Guard

Capping off the day was the 1940s, WWII-era Dinner Dance Gala, a fundraiser to help support veterans assistance programs available through the American Legion and Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and for military history preservation programs at Dahlgren Heritage Museum. Riverboat on the Potomac was decorated USO-style and includes:

  • We met 93-year-old World War II Navy veteran Oliver Strawn
  • Special guest Virginia Senator Ryan T. McDougle, a strong advocate for veterans who hosts an annual Veterans Forum, providing legislative updates that benefit veterans and to hear from those who have served.
  • AEGIS Training and Readiness Center Color Guard
  • Cheek-to-cheek dancing to a live orchestra featuring the 1940s sounds of Fredericksburg Big Band.
  • Sit-down dinner.
  • Swing dance lessons and performances by DanceFXBG
  • Riverboat on the Potomac was decorated USO-style
  • Guests were encouraged to wear military uniforms or authentic vintage, period-style, or party dress and accessories. Vintage jewelry or a flower in your hair for the ladies. A fedora, suspenders, or bow tie for the gentlemen.

A portion of ticket sales from the WWII 1940s Gala went to support veterans and historical endeavors, including:

Dahlgren Heritage Museum programs that preserve and promote the history, traditions, heritage, and culture of the U.S. Navy at Dahlgren, Virginia and provide long-term preservation efforts and educational activities associated with sharing stories and interpreting the U.S. Navy’s physical, technical, intellectual and social contributions to King George County, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the nation.

Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Scholarship Fund and Foundation, which assists veterans by creating, enhancing, expanding, or supporting high-impact, proven-successful programs and services that enable the nation’s uniformed servicemembers and veterans of all ranks and their families to maintain a quality of life reflective of their selfless service to America.

American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to servicemembers and veterans. Hundreds of local American Legion programs and activities strengthen the nation, through scholarships, Operation Comfort Warriors, National Emergency Fund and more.

Some made it a Beach Weekend! Colonial Beach, Virginia, is home to the 2nd largest public sand beach in the state. Only 65 miles from Washington DC or Richmond. In-town accommodations range from luxury B&Bs to quaint inns and motels and charming beach cottages and even campgrounds and RV parks! Visit our lodging page to find accommodations: www.visitcbva.com/stay.

Event is made possible thanks to a grant from Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Virginia World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission.