Road Trip

Show Some Esprit de Corps for Veterans Day

Sunday, November 4, 2007

WHERE: Quantico and Triangle.

WHY: A museum, at ease; natural and military-made camouflage; and memorials to two- and four-legged war veterans.

HOW FAR: About 10 miles from start to finish.

For Veterans Day this year, write to a Marine.

As part of its one-year anniversary festivities, the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle will supply postcards that visitors can inscribe and mail to deployed troops. The celebration starts Saturday, which happens to be the Marine Corps' 232nd birthday and the beginning of Veterans Day weekend.

The museum covers the branch's history from inception (which, legend has it, was at Philadelphia's 18th-century Tun Tavern, now re-created as a pub in the museum) to present (with moving photos of Sept. 11, Afghanistan and Iraq). But often it's the visitors who provide the most provocative narration: "It's like, one guy's been to Vietnam and I've been to Iraq," says Jonathan Jameson, 24, of San Diego, who recently returned from his second tour there. "You gotta live up to the older guys."

Around the corner from the museum is one of the largest Marine Corps installations in the country. The Quantico Marine Corps Base sits on about 100 square miles and is home to the FBI Academy and the Drug Enforcement Administration Training Center. Access is limited on much of the base, but the grounds and the tiny town of Quantico (or Q-town, as the locals call it) are open to the public. If you're headed onto the grounds, bring your ID, don't speed and watch out for deer.

For those who secretly long to be a Jarhead, some of the weekend's activities -- such as donning the weighty uniforms and equipment from various eras and tasting the notoriously unpalatable Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) -- may convince you otherwise. But if you prefer your celebrations without a sprinkling of suffering, the Marines can accommodate that as well: Just show up for the ceremonial cake cuttings -- by sword, of course.

-- Melanie D.G. Kaplan

National Museum of the Marine Corps Veterans Day weekend, Saturday-Nov. 12, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Cake cuttings are Saturday, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. 18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Triangle. Free. 877-635-1775.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company