Memorial Day 2023: Pay Tribute to Fallen Heroes at These 8 Virginia Events

Courtesy of Town of Leesburg Parks and Recreation

By Aila Boyd

May 18, 2023

From solemn observances to lively parades and festivals, Virginia provides diverse opportunities for individuals to pay their respects and celebrate patriotism on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day offers an opportunity to honor those who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  

If you’re looking to recognize the sacrifice that countless men and women have made throughout the years in service of the country, Virginia has a number of events lined up. Whether you’re looking for a somber opportunity to pay your respects or a more boisterous celebration of patriotism, one of these eight events will surely resonate with you. 

National Memorial Day Observance

Memorial Day 2023: Pay Tribute to Fallen Heroes at These 8 Virginia Events
Representatives from the veterans and military service organizations wait to begin the Parade of Colors through the Memorial Amphitheater as part of the National Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery Arlington Va May 30 2022 US Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser Arlington National Cemetery released

Location: Arlington 

There’s no better way to spend Memorial Day than at Arlington National Cemetery. Its 2023 National Memorial Day Observance will be on Monday, May 29, in the Memorial Amphitheater

Around 5,000 people attend the free event annually. Although details about the 2023 observance haven’t been released as of publication, the sitting United States president typically delivers an address during the ceremony. 

City of Falls Church’s 41st Annual Memorial Day Parade and Festival

Location: Falls Church

The 41st Annual Memorial Day Parade and Festival in Falls Church on Monday, May 29, will include a full slate of activities on the City Hall grounds. 

The festival will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Separate events, including a 3K fun run, live music, and tours of Cherry Hill Farmhouse will take place throughout the day.

Other special events include a Memorial Day ceremony at 11 a.m. and a parade at 2 p.m. Rebecca Tax will serve as the grand marshal. She’s the co-owner of Clare and Don’s Beach Shack and Lazy Mike’s Deli.

Food and craft vendors will also be on site. 

National D-Day Memorial’s Memorial Day 2023 Commemoration

Memorial Day 2023: Pay Tribute to Fallen Heroes at These 8 Virginia Events
Courtesy of National D Day Memorial

Location: Bedford

Rear Adm. Michael J. Steffen, a Bedford native, will serve as the speaker for the National D-Day Memorial’s Memorial Day 2023 Commemoration. 

“His command tours include the Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 60 (HSL-60) ‘Jaguars’ in Jacksonville, Florida, the Maritime Support Wing, based in Coronado, California, and Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas,” the memorial said of Steffen. 

The free, one-hour ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 29. Guided tours will follow the service. 

Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier’s Memorial Day Remembrance 

Location: Petersburg

The Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of Civil War Soldiers goes all out for Memorial Day. The site has a full slate of activities planned for Monday, May 29, including a speaker, artillery firing, and presentation of the colors. 

“A Breakthrough Battlefield tour will give visitors a chance to learn about the events of April 2, 1865, which is followed by bugle calls and a Civil War camp life demonstration,” according to the Pamplin Historical Park website.

A viewing of “War So Terrible” will play in the Battlefield Center. The film follows two Civil War soldiers, Benjamin Franklin Meyers of the Union and Andrew Jackson Stewart of the Confederacy. While you’re in the center, be sure to look at some of the artifacts related to the Breakthrough Battle that are housed there, including uniforms and personal items. 

The Memorial Day Remembrance is included in the regular museum admission price, which is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and those with a military ID, $8 for children ages six through 12, and free for children under six.

Commonwealth’s 67th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony

Location: Richmond

The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Annual Memorial Day Ceremony will take place at the Virginia War Memorial on Monday, May 29, at 11 a.m. 

“On this important holiday, we gather to celebrate, honor, and remember all those who have given their lives in service to our country,” the Virginia War Memorial website read.

A concert by the Richmond Cadet Alumni Band and Friends will follow the ceremony at 2 p.m. Don’t forget to bring a chair. 

Those who are interested can also lay a wreath after the ceremony in the Shrine of Memory. Just make sure you register your wreath by the morning of the ceremony. 

If you can’t make it to the ceremony, you can still stream it live on Facebook

City of Portsmouth’s 138th Annual Memorial Day Parade

Location: Portsmouth

Did you know that Portsmouth is home to one of the longest-running Memorial Day parades in the country? 

“Since 1884, Portsmouth has recognized and honored the sacrifices of the brave men and women in the United States Armed Forces,” according to the city

On Monday, May 29, the parade will once again proceed down Peninsula Avenue from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. It will consist of floats, marching bands, and military units. 

Memorial Day Commemorative Program/Salute to the Fallen

Memorial Day 2023: Pay Tribute to Fallen Heroes at These 8 Virginia Events
Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg

Location: Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg has two ceremonies lined up in recognition of Memorial Day.

The Memorial Day Commemoration will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 29, on Palace Green

“The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation honors the men and women of the United States military who sacrificed their lives to defend our nation with a traditional wreath-laying ceremony,” according to the website

Later that day, a lone bagpiper will play iconic selections from the Governor’s Palace as part of A Salute to the Fallen. The website noted that the event will be a “heartfelt tribute to those men and women who gave their lives to our nation while serving in America’s Armed Forces.” 

Those who are serving or have served in the military or National Guard will receive free admission to Colonial Williamsburg on Memorial Day weekend, Friday, May 26, through Monday, May 29.

Patriotic Festival

Location: Norfolk

This year’s Patriotic Festival at Scope Arena in Downtown Norfolk will take place Thursday, May 26, through Sunday, May 28. 

“The mission of the Patriotic Festival is to honor and celebrate all branches of our Armed Forces and promote patriotism,” the website said. 

Walker Hayes will take the stage on Friday, along with Cooper Alan, Corey Kent, and DJ Ty Street.

On Saturday, Sam Hunt will perform. He will be joined by Jordan Davis, Tracielynn, Drew Green, and DJ Ty Street. 

Cody Johnson joins the musical lineup on Sunday, along with Randy Houser, Tyler Booth, and DJ Ty Street.

Prior to the show each day, there will be activities on the nearby plaza from 3 to 6 p.m. Some of the activities will include a military working dog demonstration from Naval Station Norfolk, a Chevrolet vehicle display, and a photo booth and produce sampling from Food Lion. 

  • Aila Boyd

    Aila Boyd is a Virginia-based educator and journalist. She received her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.

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