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Fourth at the Fort – A Night to Remember

Fourth of July at the Fort Remains a Hot Event

The Fourth of July at Fort Monroe has been an area tradition for decades, and it is continuing to draw people in droves.

This year, approximately 25,000 visitors celebrated Independence Day at Fort Monroe.

“It was wonderful to walk the property and see so many people from the community, faces we’ve seen for several years, and many new faces,” said Glenn Oder, executive director of the Fort Monroe Authority. “This shows how much of a tradition coming to Fort Monroe is to our community.”

The day started with the James Monroe Foundation, National Park Service and the Casemate Museum hosting a patriotic flag-raising ceremony at the Flag Bastian. This activity included live period music, participants in period attire and the featured speaker was historian Elise Harding Davis.

Thousands took advantage of the many Fort Monroe amenities including the beaches, picnic areas, campground, fishing pier, restaurants and craft brewery.

Community exhibitors provided free family-friendly activities and give-away items to event-goers. In celebration of NASA Langley’s 100th birthday, the base presented exhibits including a tabletop Mars Rover demonstration, solar system cornhole and a futuristic aircraft design activity. More than 1,000 people visited the demonstrations.

Live music was provided by the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band, Full Spectrum. This six-piece, high energy, electrifying, “pop & hip hop” band played two sets while thousands danced and sang along.

But the main event was the fireworks. The event site was relocated in 2017 to the Mill Creek side of the property in order to have the perfect amphitheater-like setting for the spectacular fireworks show.

Immediately following the concert, the fireworks were launched on a very calm, glass-like creek that reflected the colors and sparkles of this aerial show. As patriotic music played in the background, thousands of people rimmed Stillwell Road in awe of the display. The fireworks were produced by the world-renowned company, Pyrotecnico.

The 15-minute fireworks show was launched from a 1,600-square-foot floating platform in Mill Creek. This platform was provided by Youth Sailing Virginia, a non-profit organization that provides sailing opportunities for students in the 7th to 12th grades.

“Year after year, this day ranks as one of the most exciting and well attended in our community,” said Oder. “I am just happy that we can continue to provide such an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate.”

Growing up on Fort Monroe

I was born at the post hospital on March 9, 1948 and soon baptized at St Mary’s Star Of The Sea. My first home was the NCO quarters beside the Rectory. My father was career Army. We then left when my father was posted to Hong Kong but returned to Ft Monroe on his return. We lived on Pratt St until we were posted to Patch Barracks in Germany. Again on return to Ft Monroe we lived at 23 Murray St until my father retired in 1962. We then moved to Newport News while my father worked a civilian job at Ft Eustis, but returned to Hampton for me to be a part of the first class to graduate with 3 years at Kecoughtan High School. Many of my classmates were friends and kids who still lived at Ft Monroe. Growing up at Fort Monroe, and in the army in general, had to be the greatest experience a kid could have. I have an amazing amount of memories and stories of living on the post. My first marriage was even held at St Marys. And believe me when I say the history of the post has never been lost on me and provided a huge basis for my patriotism and love of country. This upbringing served me well during my own service during Viet Nam and during my multiple careers afterwards.

Haunted House

As an “Army Brat” I was lucky enough to spend my final 2 years of High School living at 36 Ruckman Rd,, inside the moat just adjacent to the beautiful Chapel of the Centurion. Loved the fact that according to a “Ghosts of Ft Monroe” pamphlet, our quarters had been reported as haunted in the past; and in particular my bedroom, upstairs at the back of the house. Never saw a ghost myself, but loved being part of that history! Hope Hampton residents continue to maintain this historic site.

Wonderful Duty Station

Stationed there from 1986 to 1991. Remember doing PT runs on the sea wall, past the NCO club and onto Dog Beach. We played soccer inside the moat for PT. Easter sunrise services were held in Continental Park with the sun coming up on the Chesapeake. I was in the CG’s (Gen Foss) Command Planning Group that had our offices in the first floor rooms of the old Chamberlin hotel along with the many liaison officers. We climbed out of our windows onto the roof to watch the US Navy battleships come back for the last time from the Gulf War. Great memories of people, events, and a very historic post! Feel so special to have a part in its history.

Born Here

I was born on Fort Monroe when it was still and active army fortress. I lived all around the world and returned to the area more than once. My oldest sister was married at the Chapel of the Centurian, and I worked for Fort Monroe Credit Union for many years. Last summer I returned to the area to visit my folks, and it was my first visit to the fortress since it had been decommissioned. I was glad to see her still in good shape and am hopeful for her future.
Please take good care of this beautiful piece of history!

My house was right there

My father (USAF, Sr. Master Seargent) was stationed at Fort Monroe when I was a child. Fort Monroe is the first home I remember and I have many fond memories. Courtesy of Google Earth I was able to pin-point precisely where our house was…..pretty cool! The rich history of the Fort, the beautiful beaches, the ghost stories, the many trees my brother and I would climb on our way back from the PX where we would get a snack and spend the day wandering around the base. My first school was just down the block where Mrs. Flemming was my kindergarten teacher. My father’s office was around the corner and the NCO Wive’s club where my mother was the president wasn’t far. My big sister was married on base to a Marine whose father was in the Army, best man was in the Navy and one of the groomsmen was in the Coast Guard…….extreme military wedding!

Music by the Bay 2017 Outdoor Concert Series

Free and Open to the Public

Opening Concert | Friday, June 2
Thursday Evenings | June 8 – August 31 (No concert July 6)
Fourth at the Fort | Monday, July 4

Bring your own picnic, chairs and Frisbee to enjoy summer sunsets
by the Chesapeake Bay, along with great military band music. 

Large groups welcome. Drop-off at Continental Park, bus parking
at Outlook Beach parking lot. Free parking onsite.

Many fond memories

What a great page. Brought back so many memories of my time there. My father was an E-8 assigned to TRADOC from 1972 through 1979. We lived at 23 Murray St. across from the Corps of Engineers building. My Mother was obsessed with winning “Yard of the Month”

We rode our bikes everywhere in the summer. I learned to swim and rollerskate at the YMCA. The Y had a “Summer Fun Club”. We sold candy to raise funds for it in the spring. Then during summer vacation, we would be taken on trips to places like Bush Gardens, Kings Dominion as well as historic places like Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg.
There were always plenty of activities for the “brats” including soccer and baseball leagues. We also had a movie theater and of course the beach.
My first dog is buried in the pet cemetery on top of the moat.

I have so many fond memories of such a special place.