The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has taken the week before Memorial Day to expand on the services it offers active duty and retired members of the armed forces.
Elisabeth Reiss, wife of Colonial Williamsburg President Mitchell Reiss, was on hand Tuesday for the formal opening of Liberty Lounge, a rest stop for military members, particularly families, in the Historic Area.
The lounge is behind the Millinery store on Duke of Gloucester Street, currently marked with a small blue sign on a white picket fence.
Lesley Hamer, community affairs manager for Colonial Williamsburg, said military and retired military will be told of the lounge when they buy tickets.
"The sign is also being replaced," Hamer said.
Reiss had a hand in planning the lounge, which she was happy to show off on a tour.
"I wanted a rocking chair for nursing mothers," she said. "I also wanted something for the kids, but I didn't want something where teens would plug in and spend an hour."
Children can use the coloring station and blackboard.
The lounge also has coffee machine and water fountain and a handicapped-accessible restroom is also available.
"It's just someplace they can come and take a break, perhaps get out of the heat," Reiss said.
She also said that providing for the military was an old Colonial Williamsburg tradition.
"I think we are just getting back to what the Rockefellers did," she said.
Pictures inside the lounge feature John D. Rockefeller Jr., the original patron of Colonial Williamsburg, including one in front of a USO that operated in Colonial Williamsburg during World War II.
Other pictures are on the way.
"We asked some retired and active-duty generals for signed pictures for the lounge, and they all generously replied," Reiss said
Among those whose pictures will hang in the Liberty Lounge are former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. James Mattis, Gen. Tony Zinni, Adm. Joseph Prueher, Adm. James Loy and Col. David Sutherland.
Colonial Williamsburg announced another part of its Honoring Service to America program Tuesday.
Beginning June 1, the program of reduced and free admission for military personnel expands year-round. A complimentary single-day admission ticket will be offered for active-duty military, reserve and National Guard personnel and up to three direct dependents. Retirees and veterans also qualify for half off single-day tickets or annual passes for up to five direct dependents.
The Honoring Service to America program will continue to offer free Colonial Williamsburg admission to all military personnel and their dependents during the Memorial Day and Veterans Day weekends, supported since 2015 by a $100,000 grant from the Home Depot Foundation.
"But we realize for some active-duty personnel, they have young kids, maybe Memorial Day is a family barbecue day and it's a busy day to bring the kids to Colonial Williamsburg, this gives them an option," Reiss said.
Colonial Williamsburg will also hold a career open house for veterans between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday..
Vaughan can be reached at (757)345-2343.