Special Feature

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

We Salute Our Veterans – Past & Present!

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…” The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926. An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors,…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Alexandria Film Festival Celebrates It’s Sweet Sixteen

By Dana Sanders This year’s Alexandria Film Festival – our 16th! — has a line-up of more than 50 films including 14 with premiere status. The premieres – East Coast, DC Metro Area, Virginia – are programmed across 13 showcases consisting of two or more films per showcase. Films will be screened in person at AMC Hoffman Center 22 on November 11th and 12th. On November 13th, the festival offers a day of family friendly, free cinema at The Lyceum in Old Town Alexandria. Below are just two of the festival’s multi-film showcases scheduled for Friday, November 11th; the links provide more information about the films and tickets: SHOWCASE: “THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE” Friday, November 11th – 12:00 PM EST at AMC Hoffman 22 For more information, trailers, and tickets go to: alexfilmfest.eventive.org/schedule/633a6241e0aa1000bc7bea08 THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE showcase films include: What’s The Mark? – Through the lens of an actress unintentionally involved in a controversial commercial, What’s The Mark? explores the power of media and advertisements in influencing public opinion and the perpetuation of stereotypes and its effects. One Pint at a Time – Craft beer generates tens of billions of dollars annually for the US economy. Despite beer’s Egyptian and African heritage, these traditions have been mostly forgotten and are rarely found in American brewing culture. Today, Black-owned breweries make up less than 1% of the nearly 9,000 breweries in operation. Eager to shift the historical perception of who makes and drinks beer, Black brewers, brand owners and influencers across the country are reshaping the craft beer industry and the future of America’s favorite adult beverage. The Sun Rises in the East – The Sun Rises in The East chronicles the birth, rise and legacy of The East, a pan-African cultural organization founded in 1969 by teens and young adults in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. SHOWCASE: “LOVE & DESIRE”…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Calacas, Calaveras and Cempasuchil…Oh My!

By Lani Gering I didn’t know much about Dia de los Muertos aka Day of the Dead until I moved to Old Town in 1992 and met my good pal Catherine Jean. She has always been huge fan of Halloween and has hosted some of the best pumpkin carving parties I have ever been to. However, one year she was talking about hosting a “Day of the Dead” party instead and I looked at her like she had gone over the edge. What?? Little did I know what a cool celebration this is and looking into what it would entail was an education. Unfortunately, the plan for the party didn’t come to fruition at that time but I have faith we will pull it off in the future. I am sure there are many of you who have admired the gorgeous costumes and makeup that people don for Halloween that feature skeletons with beautiful flower rings on their heads and the colorful designs painted on their faces. These are a result of the traditions of Dia de los Muertos. I am hoping to find someone who can paint my face this year. I want to share what I found out about this Mexican holiday that we celebrate in the USA almost as much as we do Cinco de Mayo! Who doesn’t need another good excuse to eat tacos and drink some tequila. Check it out: “The Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos), is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration. A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year from October 31-November 2. While October 31 is Halloween, November 2 is All Souls Day…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Who Knew…

By Lani Gering Well….stupid covid (can’t bring myself to capitalize the word) put a couple of cogs in the Old Town Crier wheel this month. Just as we were finalizing the Personality Profile interview, our interviewee was hit hard by the virus and we had to reschedule for next month. In the scramble to get all of the parts to our designer – who, by the way, also got hit with it the weekend before our deadline – we had to come up something entertaining for this space. And what is more entertaining than knowing that there are really important things in August that many of us have never celebrated. I consulted calendar.com/united-states and who knew that there are 97 said celebrations I had never heard of. Obviously there are several things to celebrate on the same days. I picked the following since one is pretty self-serving and the other for the good of the order: National Lazy Day – August 10th If you have been very busy with work or school lately, and you just need a day to relax and do nothing, then August 10th is the perfect day for you as it is Lazy Day! A day to do no work, no house chores, and to just sit down and enjoy your favorite TV show, read your favorite book, or anything you want, just as long as it is a lazy activity. The best part is that you don’t have to feel guilty about it because this day is a celebration of laziness! Like many unofficial holidays, the origins of National Lazy Day are unknown. However, it sure seems to have become a popular day with people, probably because who doesn’t like a day that allows them to be a couch potato. Why Being Lazy Can Be Good. Even…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Happy 273rd Birthday Alexandria!

Alexandria, founded in 1749, has a fascinating history, and many of its historic buildings are still preserved today. During its long history, Alexandria was a tobacco trading post, one of the ten busiest ports in America, a part of the District of Columbia, home to both the largest slave-trading firm in the country and a large free-black community, a Civil War supply center for Union troops, and a street-car suburb for Federal workers. Alexandria was also the hometown of George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Jim Morrison and Mama Cass. Much of present-day Alexandria was included in a 6,000-acre land grant from Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, which was awarded to Robert Howson, an English ship captain, on October 21, 1669. This land overlapped a 700-acre patent that had previously been issued to Dame Margaret Brent in 1654. The Howson tract extended along the Potomac River, from Hunting Creek on the south to the Little Falls on the north. The grant was made by authority of King Charles II in recognition of Captain Howson’s bringing 120 people to live in Virginia. Less than a month later, Howson sold the land to John Alexander for 6,000 pounds of tobacco. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, plantations were established along both sides of the Potomac River and settlement began to spread further into northern Virginia. When Fredericksburg was founded in 1728, it was the northernmost town in Virginia but was still located in the tidewater, where tobacco production was profitable. By 1732, Hugh West had established a tobacco warehouse on high bluffs overlooking a small but deep bay, at what is today the foot of Oronoco Street in Alexandria. Philip and John Alexander farmed much of the surrounding land and Hugh West oversaw the warehouse along with a ferry and…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

A Brief History of the Artificial Poppy

By Lani Gering Each year around Memorial Day, Veterans of Foreign Wars members and American Legion Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of bright red poppies in exchange for contributions to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. The program provides multiple benefits to the veterans and to the community. The hospitalized veterans who make the flowers are able to earn a small wage, which helps to supplement their incomes and makes them feel more self-sufficient. The physical and mental activity provides many therapeutic benefits as well. Donations are used exclusively to assist and support veterans and their families. The poppy also reminds the community of the past sacrifices and continuing needs of our veterans. The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars. In the World War I battlefields of Belgium, poppies grew wild amid the ravaged landscape. How could such a pretty little flower grow wild while surrounded by death and destruction? The overturned soils of battle enabled the poppy seeds to be covered, thus allowing them to grow and to forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed during that and future wars. Madam Guerin, who was recognized as “the poppy lady from France”, sought and received the cooperation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. early in 1922, after the Franco-American Children’s League was dissolved. The VFW conducted a poppy sale prior to Memorial Day, 1922, using only poppies that were made in France. In the 1923 poppy sale, due to the difficulty and delay in getting poppies from France, the VFW made use of a surplus of French poppies that were on hand and the balance was provided by a firm in New York City…

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Special Feature

Erin Go Bragh- “Ireland til the end of time”

We here at the Old Town Crier love everything about St. Patrick’s Day including the history. We try to print this important information every year in the March issue and I am sure we  have missed a few but we think it’s important that our readers know that it is more than just a day for a parade and swilling green beer! BTW, there will be no parade in Old Town Alexandria this year and no self-respecting Irish person drinks green beer! Just Sayin’!   A Bit of St. Patrick’s Day History   St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.   On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.   The First Parade   The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.   Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called “Irish Aid” societies, like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums.   In 1848, several New…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE OLD TOWN CRIER!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE OLD TOWN CRIER! These last couple of years have been a bit trying and as hard as it may seem we all have something to be thankful for every day. On top of the blessings we enjoy with a roof over our head and food in the fridge we are thankful for all of you readers and advertisers – without you we wouldn’t be here! Contributors Thanks: I’m grateful for, in no particular order, mashed potatoes, vaccines, caregivers, medical personnel, my family, more mashed potatoes, second helpings of everything, yoga pants, a wealth of friends, and the best family a girl could ask for. – Lori Welch Brown, Open Space I am thankful and grateful to be living in the greatest nation in the history of our planet. – F. Lennox Campello, Gallery Beat I’m thankful for the health and good fortune of my precious family and friends. This year I am especially grateful for my new Chiweenie puppy, Max, who lightens every day. – Miriam R. Kramer, Last Word I’m so thankful for good music and good art and the people that create it. I’m also thankful for all the kindness people have shown me over the last year. Whether it’s from friends, family or a random stranger on the street. It’s always nice to see the good in people shine through. – Ron Powers, High Notes July 2021 marked the beginning of my 25th year with Crier Media Group.  Bob, Lani and I met in 1996 when the Olympic torch was coming to Alexandria.  They asked if I, a then-ACVA Board member would write a one-time only article recounting the event.  It is from that experience A Bit of History was born.  I am thankful a chance encounter has proven successful; for Bob and Lani’s giving me the time and…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Stingy Jack – The Legend of the Jack O’Lantern

Stingy Jack – The Legend of the Jack O’Lantern Halloween is a mix of ancient Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions that blended together over time to create the holiday we know today. Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity and life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Halloween has long been thought of as a day when the dead can return to the earth, and ancient Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts. The Celtic holiday of Samhain, the Catholic Hallowmas period of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and the Roman festival of Feralia all influenced the modern holiday of Halloween. In the 19th century, Halloween began to lose its religious connotation, becoming a more secular community-based children’s holiday. Although the superstitions and beliefs surrounding Halloween may have evolved over the years, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people can still look forward to parades, costumes and sweet treats to usher in the winter season. One of the most popular activities surrounding the celebration is carving jack o’lanterns. People have been making jack o’lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would…

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Featured Post, Special Feature

WANTED: MOM…Apply Within

WANTED: MOM…Apply Within By: Caroline Simpson Job Title: Mother. Requirements: must be willing to work overtime for no additional compensation. Necessary Skills: patience, fortitude, and super-human ability to multitask. Salary: none but must be able to provide monthly (at least) payments to clients. Travel: yes – lots. Benefits: bedtime and the one day a year that it is all about you! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!  If I was in charge, I would recommend you for a promotion and a raise, your service over the years has been remarkable.  However, since I do not play the CEO role in this family, I will take this opportunity to honor you by giving you an inside look at my new plans for this holiday. In all seriousness, Mother’s Day is an important holiday.  Allow me to provide a bit of the history for you.  The tradition dates back as far as the Greek Empire and their Annual Spring Festival; various religions and spiritual groups dedicated a specific day in May to celebrate the Mother Mary, Mother Earth, the Mother of All Deities, etc.  England expanded this honor to not just religious mother figures, but to all mothers, and the United States made it the celebration it is today about 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, mother and homemaker, decided that there were days for men and days for children, but there just was not a single day devoted to mothers alone. Anna would be proud.  Today, Mother’s Day results in the highest volume of telephone traffic over any other day of the year, restaurants are more crowded on this second Sunday in May than any other holiday, and, of course, Hallmark card sales increase dramatically. Well, this Mother’s Day, I want to do more than just buy a card.  I know that nothing…

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