Provided by Town of Colonial Beach Travel & Tourism
Within the Commonwealth of Virginia reside nearly 800,000 veterans and over 115,000 active
duty and reserve members of the military. Prince William County is proud of the military
presence in our region (ten military installations in or around the County) and committed to
supporting the veterans and active duty service members who have served and continue to serve
This year marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the day Allied forces landed along the Normandy coast of France during World War II. D-Day is considered the largest and greatest amphibious assault in history—one which changed the course of the war.
To commemorate this monumental anniversary, and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in 2018, our neighbors to the south in the Town of Colonia Beach, Virginia (CBVA) are hosting a WWI & WWII Commemoration event on July 20.
“World War I was called ‘the war to end all wars.’ By learning how wars come about and how the consequences influence our activities, we come to understand current policies,” said Roger Dean, American Legion Post 148 Service Officer, The American Legion (which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary). “For example, the American Legion came about at the end of World War I to ensure Americans were trained in military operations and that veterans were supported.”
About Colonial Beach
Located on Virginia’s Northern Neck, just over fifty miles from Triangle, CBVA is home to the second largest public sand beach in Virginia. The 2.6-mile town is located on a peninsula, bordered by the Potomac River and Monroe Bay, approximately 35 nautical miles from the Chesapeake Bay. It is the last deepwater port on the River heading south, with ten marinas to serve boaters.
The WWI & WWII Commemoration
Colonial Beach’s WWI & WWII Commemoration is a full day of events designed to memorialize the World Wars’ anniversaries and honor the veterans of those wars, their sacrifices, and contributions of the people at home.
Working closely with the Dahlgren Heritage Foundation, the town aims to foster public knowledge and promote 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 world-wide political, cultural, and economic landscape. The region’s history as it relates to WWI and WWII will be highlighted, notably the impact of Naval Proving Grounds in Dahlgren during WWII.
“Our museum programs regularly tie Dahlgren’s history to its present contributions,” says Dr. Robert Gates, Foundation Vice President. “The focus on Dahlgren’s contributions are of interest to many in this region because of family ties. But we’ve discovered that our base tours also attract local people without direct ties to the base and tourists that are visiting or passing through King George because of their interest in military history.”
Schedule of Events
An Opening Ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at the American Legion kicks off the event, including a flag raising by Dahlgren Color Guard and ceremonial band. Virginia Congressman Robert Wittman and Dahlgren Commanding Officer Captain Michael O’Leary are expected to speak at the ceremony.
Immediately following the Opening Ceremony, an educational forum will be held with local historians, including a number from the Dahlgren Heritage Museum. Between 11:30 a. m. and 4:30 p. m., CBVA’s Town Hill will be busy with activity such as entertainment, book signings, exhibits, and displays of World War memorabilia, including a WWII observer plane. Active/retired military, veterans, and non-profit organizations will be onsite to provide information and resources. Food and beverages, including beer and wine will be available. Highlights of the day are a flyover by WWII planes from The Flying Circus Air Show; Silent Drill from Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.; and a Marine Corp amphibious landing out of the Potomac.
“There are many active, retired, and reserve/national guard personnel in the local and surrounding counties and several major military installations within easy commuting distance,” said Christopher Werle, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired), and Member, Board of Directors, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Potomac Chapter. “Our goal is to honor the generation that helped preserve the freedoms we all enjoy today. Further, we aim to provide a better understanding of the causes of world-wide conflicts, the enormous costs and lasting impacts, and the ongoing need for deterrence and a strong national defense capability.”
Capping off the day will be a 1940s WWII-era themed dinner/dance gala. The gala is a fundraiser to help support veterans assistance programs available through the American Legion and MOAA, and for military history preservation programs at the Dahlgren Heritage Museum. Riverboat on the Potomac will be decorated USO-style and will serve a sit-down dinner with choice of four entrees. The Fredericksburg Big Band will perform standards of the era and swing dance lessons and dance routines will be performed by DanceFXBG. Guests are encouraged to dress in military uniforms or authentic vintage, period-style, or party dress.
Daytime events and activities during Colonial Beach’s WWI & WWII Commemoration are free. The evening gala is a ticketed event with discounts for veterans and patrons who purchase Early Bird tickets before May 31. Purchasers can add a donation at checkout for the non-profit partners, if they choose.
Guests can opt to stay in Colonial Beach overnight, as there are a number of inns, motels, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and over fifty beach cottages in Town.
“As a veteran myself, I am thrilled that the Town of Colonial Beach is able to bring an event of this caliber to Virginia,” said Quinn Robertson, Town Manager of Colonial Beach. “While there are a number of events commemorating the Civil War, there are fewer in the area that pay tribute to ‘the greatest generation’, its contributions, and sacrifices. We hope to change that by making WWI & WWII Day an annual event.”
To learn more about the Northern Neck WWI & WWII Commemoration Day, visit the event post. Tickets for the Colonial Beach VA WWII 1940s Dinner & Swing Dance Gala are available via the Eventbrite link in the