Local Veterans Gear Up For Memorial Day

Local Veterans Gear Up For Memorial Day

In the early hours of next Monday, Memorial Day, Compton Jones expects to be doing something he’s been doing for 70 years — playing tennis with his friends.

Jones, a long-time Potomac resident and World War II veteran, is a member of the Potomac Tennis & Conversation Club, a social group that meets periodically throughout the year — weather permitting — to play tennis and catch up with one another.

Later in the day Jones will practice a more traditional, solemn observance of Memorial Day.

“I of course plan to go down to the World War II Monument,” Jones said. From there he will go to Arlington Cemetery, then he will be off to spend the rest of the day with his grandchildren in Poolesville.

Jones, a founding member of Potomac Presbyterian Church, grew up in Washington, D.C., attending Sidwell Friends, where he learned to play tennis.

“It’s been a good game to me,” said Jones, who is still playing 70 years after he first learned how. Jones raised his family in on Glen Road in Potomac before moving to Northern Virginia in the late 1980s.

“We had six acres and eight golden retrievers,” Jones said. “My kids had a great time and it was really a lovely stay.”

JONES SERVED in the Navy during World War II aboard the USS Wisconsin, which now serves as a floating museum in Norfolk, Va. The ship was recently visited by England ’s Prince William, who dined aboard the ship.

“It’s great to know he had a good time visiting our ship, and you better believe I’m real proud of her,” Jones said.

For Jones, like many others, Memorial Day is a both a day of leisure and of remembrance. It is particularly a meaningful day for those who have served their country in time of war.

“It means a lot,” said Danny Harris, a Cabin John resident and World War II Naval veteran. “Up until now since the Iraq War it’s in memory of the ones we lost over there and World War II, and Korea and the other wars.”

HARRIS HAS SPENT a few days recently working on his 1924 Model T Ford. Recently he found a leak in the gas tank, but he fixed it and the car is just about in running shape again.

With that project down, he has another coming up on Saturday.

Each year for Memorial Day and Veterans Day Harris lines the streets of MacArthur Boulevard with American flags that he hangs from the lampposts.

“The flag means a lot to me,” Harris said. “I love the flag and I love this country.”

Harris and his five brothers served in World War II. Danny Harris and two of his brothers served in the Navy, two in the Army, and the other in the Air Force. All survived the war.

Harris said that he will hang the flags on Saturday morning, and on Memorial Day he will likely catch up with his brothers over the phone. Then he might take his 1924 Model T for a spin to enjoy the warm weather and the freedom that he helped to ensure more than half a century ago.

“It’s one year older than I am,” said Harris of his pet project. “It’s got new tires and a good engine and it’s just about ready to go.”

— Aaron Stern