Service members from all branches of the U.S. military including some stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) participated in a local parade and festival last week held to foster positive community relations in the shadows of the National Capital Region.
At the 33rd Annual Congress Heights Day Festival held at the St. Elizabeth East Pavilion in Washington, D.C. Saturday May 3, military personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard presented colors, marched and called cadence in a remarkable display before hundreds of residents and visitors to the community.
Deputy Commandant for Mission Support Coast Guard Vice Adm. Manson Brown served as the grand marshal for the event.
Brown, a Washington, D.C. native walked down MLK Avenue waving and shaking hands with local residents flanked by Coast Guard community affairs officer Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Schafler and Officer-in-Training Shannon Scott, a student at Howard University in the district.
“It is a great opportunity to come out here with the admiral and to be out in the community,” Scott said.
The festival was filled with music and groups of cheerleaders dancing. A variety of vendors sold fresh fruit and vegetables, promoted memberships in their organizations, handed out free clothes and promoted the benefits of enlisting in the military.
Sailors from the Navy Ceremonial Guard swiftly spun rifles in perfect synchronization as onlookers from the community marveled at the fine display of military precision and discipline.
Event organizer and Congress Heights Community Association Vice President Monica Ray applauded JBAB’s participation in fostering positive relations within the local community.
“We are so excited about having the Navy Ceremonial Drill Team here with us today. This is a great opportunity because many people in our community have never even seen the ceremonial drill team. So we are very excited about them being here,” Ray said.
The military is certainly a welcome presence in the community for its security and assistance in maintaining a growing community, according to Ray.
“The volunteer base that comes from the armed services is highly involved in mentoring the youth and volunteering in our community-based organizations. It is also a safety thing, to know that we have somebody taking care of us right next door, it’s a good thing,” Ray said.
District Council Memeber Muriel Bowser acknowledged the sacrifices of the men and women of the U.S. armed forces during the festival.
“We are delighted to celebrate with Congress Heights like we have done every year for this parade. We truly appreciate what our armed services have done for our country and our city and all of the veterans that have served so valiantly. We are truly committed to making sure we support them,” Bowser said.
Prior to WWII, Congress Heights was home to the Army National Guard in D.C. During WWII that facility had anti-aircraft guns strategically located to defend the nation’s capital against an air attack. The U.S. Naval Gun Factory also resided there before production was halted in 1960.