Alexandria commemorates important anniversaries in the history of our country and our city.

Page updated on Jun 19, 2021 at 3:27 PM

Commemorations in Alexandria

Alexandria's Birthdays

Bicentennial Parade in front of Gadsby's Tavern, 1976 Bicentennial parade passes Gadsby's Tavern, 1976. 

Alexandria was incorporated in 1749, and large celebrations commemorated Alexandria's Bicentennial in 1949, and its 250th anniversary in 1999. The town also celebrated the Commonwealth of Virginia's Tercentennial in 1907 and the nation's Bicentennial in 1976. 

  • 1907 - Souvenir Virginia Tercentennial 1607-1907 of Historic Alexandria, Virginia (1907) Souvenir Virginia Tercentennial 1607-1907 of Historic Alexandria, Virginia, by Andrew J. Wedderburn (Alexandria, 1907). An illustrated guide to Alexandria buildings and neighborhoods. This book was created as a promotional piece with the support of Alexandria's then-new Chamber of Commerce, founded the same year, and attempted to tie into the statewide excitement surrounding the 300th anniversary of Jamestown.  Today, it serves as a useful snapshot of the community, showing Alexandria as a busy city of small industries, shops, and regional commerce, even though its once famous port had long since declined.
  • 1949 - 200 Years of Progress: A  booklet created for Alexandria's Bicentennial.
  • 1949 - Remembering Alexandria's Bicentennial -- Philately, by Timothy J. Dennée. Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Spring 1999.

Commemorating War

The War of 1812

The War of 1812: The War of 1812 and the five-day occupation of Alexandria by British forces in 1814, had a profound effect on the town and its economy. Threatened with an invasion and with insufficient forces to defend the city, Alexandria’s Common Council surrendered to the British without resistance. The city avoided being burned, but the was required to surrender contents of stores and warehouses. Learn more about how the War and occupation affected Alexandria, and view some artifacts from the Historic Alexandria collections. (200th anniversary, 2012-2015).   

The Civil War

The Civil War: Witness to war and reunion, Alexandria's place in Civil War history is truly unique. The occupation of Alexandria by Union troops forever changed the social, cultural and economic fabric of the old seaport town. For four years Alexandria was an occupied city; enduring the longest military occupation by Union troops of any town during the conflict. The Office of Historic Alexandria commemorated the Civil War Sesquicentennial  through special events and exhibits, and by pulling together resources on the history of Alexandria in the Civil War. (150th anniversary, 2011-2015).

World War I

World War I The City of Alexandria joined countless others around the world in commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I. The war began in Europe in 1914, and the US entered the war in April of 1917. For a small city in the shadow of the Nation's capital, Alexandria was fully involved in World War I. Over 4,000 residents participated directly in uniform, while hundreds  more worked in war industries including aircraft construction, shipbuilding, and other war-related production. Effects of the war can still be seen in the City today. (100th anniversary, 2017-2018).

World War II

This online exhibit commemorated the 75th anniversary of American entry into World War II on December 7, 1941. (75th anniversary, 2016). The lectures, below, were presented at D=Day commemorations.

The Five Payne Brothers: An Alexandria Family & Their Service
This online exhibit tells the story of the Payne Brothers, their life in Alexandria, and their service during World War II. 

Payne Brothers PowerPoint

Forgotten: the Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War
Author lecture, originally presented June 4, 2021
Sponsored by the City of Alexandria and the Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee

As part of the City of Alexandria’s 11th annual D-Day commemoration, Linda Hervieux, Paris-based American journalist, photographer and author of FORGOTTEN: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War, shares the story of D-Day’s only African-American combat soldiers, who were effectively written out of the history of the Normandy invasion. Tom Brokaw called FORGOTTEN "utterly compelling," and Douglas Brinkley said "all Americans should read" this battalion's journey through segregated Jim Crow America to unexpected freedom in Britain and France. Hervieux has lectured extensively on the African Americans of D-Day and World War II at Harvard, Princeton, Berkeley, the Imperial War Museum in London, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

D-Day Commemoration Lecture
Originally presented June 3, 3021
Sponsored by the City of Alexandria and the Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee

Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee's 11th annual D-Day commemoration presents former U.S. Army Historian Dr. Kim Bernard Holien discussing D-Day secrets, known and unknown in a 'Rest of the Story' presentation about the secrets that made the Allies victorious on the 'day of days.' Dr. Kim Bernard Holien was a professional historian with the U.S. Army for 34 years, receiving commendations from the late John Marsh, Secretary of the Army, and President Ronald Reagan. He is the recipient of the 2008 Joseph L. Harsh History Award from the Northern Virginia Association of Historians and the co-recipient of the 2016 T. Michael Miller Alexandria History Award from the Alexandria Historical Society.

18:51 - Dr. Holien's lecture begins
7:18 - This video also includes a 10 minute interview with Alexandrian and WWII vet, Robert Fischman, recounting his experience at Normandy on D-Day.