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Time Travel to a USO Weekend

The city salutes the Greatest Generation.

"Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition," Alexandria is about to step back into the World War II era with A USO Weekend.

During a three day celebration, entitled "Alexandria Salutes! — A USO Weekend," set for July 16-18, that old song from the war years will be heard along with many others from The Liberty Belles, the Tom Cunningham Orchestra, Radio King Orchestra, Alexandria Citizens Band and the U.S. Army Chorale.

In addition to the musical tributes throughout the city there will be a USO Swing Dance at the Torpedo Factory Art Center and a three act play entitled "Letters From The Front." It captures the hopes and fears of service personnel and their homefront families and sweethearts across American history from Valley Forge to Vietnam.

Under the joint sponsorship of the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association (ACVA) and the USO of Metropolitan Washington, the event-packed weekend kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday, July 16, with the Liberty Belles performing at Stella's Restaurant Courtyard. They will be joined by Victordance, a professional swing dance group.

A nostalgic 1940's troupe reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters, The Liberty Belles will also join the Tom Cunningham Orchestra later that evening at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union Street, for a USO Canteen-style dance from 8 p.m. to midnight. Admission is $20 per person.

THE ENTIRE WEEEKEND is part of the continuing tribute to America's "Greatest Generation" on the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion coupled with the opening of the new World War II memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. There will also be regularly scheduled bus trips to and from the memorial throughout the weekend.

"We are excited to be working with the USO of Metropolitan Washington to make this special weekend possible," said Jo Anne Mitchell, president and CEO, ACVA. "Alexandria is joining the entire Washington region in paying tribute to all our military, both retired and active duty."

ACVA and the USO have been working for months to pull together a weekend of non-stop events, with many free to the public, according to Laura Overstreet, vice president, ACVA Communications. In addition to The Liberty Belles, there will be performances by the Ultimate Abbott and Costello Show, the U.S. Army Chorale, and Alexandria's "Harmony Heritage Singers" barbershop harmonizers. "USO-Metro is always proud to participate in events recognizing the achievements of our military personnel and their families," said Elaine Rogers, president and CEO of USO-Metro. "This weekend will be a lot of fun for everyone involved."

ALEXANDRIA PLAYED an important role in the war effort, highlighted by torpedoes being manufactured at the Torpedo Factory and the ship yards at Jones Point. It was also home, as were cities across the nation, to USO entertainment centers known as "Canteens."

The slogan of those USO centers was "Keep'm Smiling." That was done through music, dancing and fellowship. All that will again take center stage to kick off the city's "100 Day Celebration" to remember the years 1941-1945 and say 'thank you' for the sacrifices made by the entire nation during that time.

One of the most poignant events will take place at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, 101 Callahan Drive, on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and again on Sunday at 2 p.m. The three act play, "Letters From The Front," tells the story, both funny and heart warming, of soldiers and their loved ones involved in America's military conflicts.

Written and produced by the husband and wife team of Robert Rector and Marsha Roberts, the show has been touring for 14 years with many performances presented to American troops stationed around the globe.

"Our present actors, Bobbi Kravis and Bob Curren, from the New York stage, have been with us for the last three and four years," Roberts said.

TICKET PRICES differ per performance and are not applicable to seating location, according to ACVA. Per person prices are: Friday - $26; Saturday - $30; and Sunday - $22.50. They are available online at www.Tickets.com or by calling 703-218-6500 or 800-955-5566. Additional information can be found at www.letter-from-the-front.com.

In addition to the Sunday performance of "Letter From the Front," two other events will top off the weekend salute. The Liberty Belles will give their final performance starting at 1 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center, 2701 Commonwealth Avenue.

Beginning at 1:30 p.m., there will be a one hour World War II Remembrance Memorial Service at Market Square, 301 King Street. Hosted by American Legion Post 24, this event will be presented to honor and thank all U.S. active duty and retired military personnel for their service to the nation.

A microcosm of the entire weekend festivities will be presented at Market Square Saturday afternoon. It will kick off with excerpts from "Letter From the Front," followed by:

*12:45 - USO Liberty Belles

*1:30 - The Ultimate Abbott and Costello Tribute Show

*1:45 - Victordance Swing Dance Demonstration

*2:15 - Heritage Harmony Singers

*2:45 - The Ultimate Abbott and Costello Tribute Show

*3:00 - The Liberty Belles

*4:00 - U.S. Army Chorale - USO Show

<ro>Events and Times

<lst>*Friday, July 16

5 - 6:30 p.m. - The Liberty Belles with Victordance - Stella's Restaurant Courtyard

7:30 - 8:30 p.m. - Alexandria Citizens Band - Market Square

8 - Midnight - USO Swing Dance with Tom Cunningham Orchestra and the Liberty Belles - Torpedo Factory Art Center, admission $20 pp

8 p.m. - Of Thee I Swing with Radio King Orchestra, big band music plus stage dancing and vocalists - Old Town Theater, admission $22, doors open 7 p.m.

8 p.m. - Letters From the Front - GW Masonic National Memorial, admission $26 pp

*Saturday, July 17

Noon - 5 p.m. - USO Review at Market Square

7 - 8 p.m. - Military Band Concert, King Street Gardens, King Street and Diagonal Road

8 p.m. - Letters From the Front, admission $30 pp

8 p.m. - Of Thee I Swing, admission $22 pp

*Sunday, July 18

1 - 2 p.m. - Liberty Belles, Mount Vernon Recreation Center, 2701 Commonwealth Ave.

1:30 - 2:30 p.m. - World War II Remembrance Memorial Service, Market Square

2 p.m. - Letters From the Front, admission $22.50 pp. Ten percent discount this performance for groups, military, and senior citizens

IN ADDITION TO the entertainment, the City of Alexandria will offer the opportunity to send free video emails to US service personnel serving overseas. USO-Metro will host a Market Square exhibit with the opportunity to "contribute to the USO mission through www.AlexandriaCares.com." Other Market Square exhibits will include: Calvert Marine Museum; a display of WWII military vehicles; and the history of the Red Cross in WWII.

Free shuttle buses sponsored by the Alexandria Hotel Association, will leave Market Square at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., for the National WWII Memorial. Return buses will depart the Memorial for Market Square at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Additional details are available at www.FunSide.com or at the Alexandria Visitors Center in the Ramsay House, 221 King Street.

<ro>WWII Themed Events

<lst>Events marking the 60th Anniversary of D-Day and the opening of the National World War II Memorial highlighted throughout the summer and fall include:

*July 23 - August 14 - "Cabaret" at the Little Theatre of Alexandria. Set in Berlin, Germany, on the eve of World War II, it focuses on the rise of Nazism and the denial of German citizenry as war clouds gathered over Europe.

*Through August 18 - The restoration of General George C. Marshall's personal residence, Dodona Manor, from 1941 to 1959, the site of many national and international planning sessions. 217 Edwards Perry Road, Leesburg, VA.

*Through August 31 - Gadsby's Tavern through the Legion Years, focuses on the years, that included WWII, American Legion Post 24 owned the tavern

*Through August 31 - WWII-era tours of Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighey House. Built in 1940, it is the only Wright designed structure in the Washington area.

*Through September 6 - Alexandria at War, 1941-45 Exhibit at The Lyceum

*Through September 6 - World War II Art Exhibit, Old Town Theater. Original works of art by Harold A. Laynor, a member of the 603rd Camouflage Engineers Battalion, also known as the "Ghost Army" of WWII

*Through September 6 - Building of The Pentagon and the War Department in Arlington, Arlington Visitors Orientation Center. Includes the building of National Airport.

*Through September 6 - A special service saluting all veterans, especially those of WWII, will take place at George Washington's tomb, Mount Vernon Estate, each day at 2 p.m. Led by historic interpreters, veterans will be invited into the tomb to place a wreath and record their visit in a special guest book

*Through September - American Women in WWII, Women In Military Service for America Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery

*Through November 11 - The DEA Honors Veterans, DEA Museum

*Ongoing - "Cradle of Victory": The WWII Heritage Trail. A self-guided tour highlighting 17 WWII sites in Northern Virginia. Additional information at www.visitnorthernvirginia.com