Washington area residents celebrating Memorial Day today will probably find the day short on gasoline but long on good weather and activities in the area.

From the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to parades, backyard barbecues and outings in local parks, the area will be astir with tourists and residents enjoying the traditional first big holiday of the summer.

About 25 percent of the area's 1,500 gas stations will be open today, a spokesman for the American Automobile Association said. Along interstate highways near Washington, gas stations will be open, the spokesman said, but there may be limits to the amount of gasoline that each motorist can buy. Various stations along the Delaware Turnpike have imposed $3 or $4 limitations, for example, and some stations along the Kennedy Highway north of Baltimore have imposed $6 limits.

Officials at Ocean City, Rehoboth Beach, Virginia Beach and at Nags Head, N.C., all said that gas stations in their areas would be open during the holiday, although some may close early.

Although gasoline will be in short supply, good weather will not be, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service. The highs today and tomorrow will be in the mid- to upper-70s with partly sunny skies - a change from the unpredictable alternating pattern of rain and sunshine and cooler weather that the area has endured during th past couple of days. Lows tonight and tomorrow will be in the 50s.

Memorial day festivities in the area will begin at 9:30 a.m. today with a parade down North Washington Street in Rockville starting at Courthouse Square.

At Arlington Cemetery, at 11 a.m., Max Cleland, director of the Veterans Administration, will speak in the amphitheater after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The amphitheater is immediately behind the tomb.

Congress designated today through Sunday as National Vietnam Veterans Week to honor those who served in Vietnam. Throughout the week, members of the Ad Hoc Committee for Vietnam Veterans Week, an advisory group to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, will be handing out flyers and red ribbons, the symbol of recognition for Vietnam era veterans.

Otehr events highlighting the week include a jobs fair sponsored by the National Black Veterans Organization opening today at the D.C. Coliseum at Third and M Streets NE and a small business development fair, sponsored by the Vietnam Vets Foundation, also At the Coliseum.

Tuesday through Friday, the Department of Defense will help those with bad or dishonorable discharges at the regional Veterans Administration Office at 941 North Capitol Street.

The washington Monument and Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials will be open all day to midnight and most of the Smithsonian Institution museums will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Exceptions will be the Freer Gallery of Art, the Renwick Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Collection of Fine Arts, which will close at 5:30 p.m. The National Gallery of Art will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

All federal, state and local government offices in Virginia and the District of Columbia, except those that provide emergency service, will be close today. In Maryland, Prince George's and Montgomery counties, offices will be closed while state offices will be open. Maryland state offices will be closed on Wednesday in observance of the official Memorial Day, May 30th.

Schools in the District of Columbia, Alexandria and Montgomery county will be closed today, but schools in Arlington, Prince George's and Fairfax counties will make up a snow day. Fairfax schools will close two hours early.

Metro buses will run their normal Sunday schedule today, but the sub-way will be closed. No mail will be delivered and banks will be closed in Washington and Virginia today. Banks will be open in Maryland, but will be closed Wednesday. CAPTION: Picture, Widow of veteran buried at Arlington places flowers at his grave. By Larry Morris - The Washington Post