Marines, Soldiers celebrate emergence of cherry blossoms
April 15, 2014
WASHINGTON - Music, fireworks, cherry trees well on their way to blooming and Marines and Soldiers from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall combined to make the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival the place to be April 5.
One of the dozens of events that make up the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the fireworks festival marked its 11th anniversary this year. Patrons also celebrated the 102nd anniversary of the gift of cherry trees to the American people from the nation of Japan.
"I'm not sure if you know this, but 20 of those original cherry trees were planted at Fort McNair," JBM-HH Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter said in remarks that helped open the fireworks festival. "And through the years, we have added to our cherry tree population, so I am proud to say that we have our own beautiful grove of cherry trees at Fort McNair that line the Washington Channel just across from Haines Point and Potomac Park."
JBM-HH is a member of the Washington Waterfront Association, the neighborhood organization that co-sponsors the fireworks festival each year.
"It has been our great honor and privilege to provide military support for the fireworks festival and to be part of this tremendous annual event," said Sumpter.
Capt. Monte Ulmer, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity, also welcomed attendees to the festival and thanked the community for its support of the Navy Yard following the Sept. 16, 2013, shooting.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for all of the help, support and sense of community that all of you have shown us in the Navy, and not just in the recent past," he said. "The Washington Navy Yard is a historic icon in the National Capital Region."
The festival was started with a Joint Forces Color Guard presentation of the nation's colors. Veterans from the Armed Forces Retirement Home of Washington were also in the audience for the opening ceremony. Following the event, several audience members approached the veterans to thank them for their service.
Soldiers from Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers and Marines from the Single Marine Program were at the festival's 7th Street Landing venue selling hot dogs, popcorn and cotton candy in support of both programs.
"We've got cotton candy and hot dogs going on," said Pfc. Christopher Herea of The Old Guard as he dished up the treats to hungry festival goers.
The U.S. Army Band Downrange rocked the crowds as the sun set with their renditions of the latest pop hits and patriotic favorites. They were followed by the U.S. Army Blues, who performed leading up to the fireworks display that colored the sky over the Potomac for about 30 minutes.