Fort Myer and the U.S. Army get a big fat "F" for community relations on July 4th. For years, hundreds of people from surrounding neighborhoods have enjoyed easy pedestrian access to the fort's wonderful hilltop view of the fireworks on the Mall. This July 4th, I and many of my neighbors discovered at the last minute that the gates were closed. While security concerns may justify the closing, why didn't officials at Fort Myer inform their neighbors that a tradition many had counted on for years suddenly would disappear?
Nothing in The Post's synopses of events indicated that Fort Myer no longer would be accessible.
At a minimum, a sign should have been placed on the gates that day to allow people to make alternative plans. No sign. Instead, we encountered locked gates at 7:30 p.m. and a clueless Arlington County Police officer apparently assigned to guard the gate. When asked if the fort was closed for fireworks viewing, he responded that he only knew that the Second Street entrance (many blocks away) was open to vehicular traffic. He did not know if there was public access there for viewing. The National Park Service staff stationed at the Iwo Jima Memorial didn't know either. Many of us rushed there at the last minute.
As the world and our region get increasingly overcrowded, seemingly simple things like fireworks on the 4th become complicated and stressful. Fort Myer failed to inform the public, the county police and the National Park Service that its July 4th tradition would be abruptly halted, and its neighbors suffered because of it. Not a patriotic move.