Yorktown Day festivities celebrate victory in 1781

jojacobs@vagazette.com

Music, special programs and a parade will celebrate Yorktown Day Oct. 19-21, the annual commemoration of the decisive Franco-American victory over the British at Yorktown that secured American independence.

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Yorktown Battlefield and Historic Yorktown will hold special programming in observation of the 237th anniversary of the Siege of Yorktown, where American and French forces led by George Washington defeated a British army under Charles Cornwallis in 1781.

The battle was the last major engagement of the American Revolution and effectively secured the independence of the American colonies.

The Yorktown Day Parade starts at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 19. The route runs along Yorktown’s Main Street and in front of the Monument to Alliance and Victory, according to a news release about the event.

The parade will feature 35 units, including the Army Old Guard Fifes and Drums, representatives of every American military branch and reserve officer training corps.

“The parade is designed to celebrate the victory and honor the military,” Yorktown Day coordinator Mike Byrd said. “There’s easily 1,000 people in the parade.”

The annual flag ceremony, which includes the 3rd Infantry Color Guard and Yorktown Day Association member organizations, will take place at 11:15 a.m. Oct. 13. A wreath-laying ceremony will take place to honor the memory of the soldiers who fought and died at the battle.

The Old Guard Fifes and Drums will perform 1 p.m. at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center on Oct. 19, and Revolutionary War guided tours by living history associates will take place several times that afternoon. Yorktown Battlefield admission will be free Oct. 19, according to the release.

Over at the American Revolution Museum, visitors will be able to take in a public lecture with author and historian Ray Raphael titled “How to Listen and Win Wars” at 3 p.m. Oct. 19. The lecture will explore Washington’s ability to consult his colleagues regarding military matters, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation spokeswoman Tracy Perkins wrote in an email.

The celebration continues into the weekend at the American Revolution Museum. The museum’s Yorktown Victory Celebration will feature artillery firing demonstrations, military music performances and hands-on experiences, according to the news release.

“I think museum visitors enjoy learning about the Siege at Yorktown and the people of the Revolution through the museum's interpretive programs and interactions with Revolutionary War re-enactors,” Perkins wrote.

During the weekend, the museum’s artillery exhibit “Blast from the Past” will be open to visitors.

The exhibit features American, French and British artillery pieces used during the American Revolution, as well as other artifacts and interactive experiences about all aspects of artillery, ranging from the technology behind the weapons to the means by which pieces were transported into battle. The exhibition remains open until Jan. 5.

The College of William and Mary Symphony Orchestra will perform 12 compositions in honor of the military, climaxing with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” 3:30 pm. Oct. 21 at the museum.

Special events at the museum are included with museum admission.

Yorktown Day programming also will take place in Historic Yorktown. The park service will offer open houses of historic homes Oct. 20-21. People will be able to tour the Nelson House, where Declaration of Independence signer Thomas Nelson Jr. lived, as well as the Moore House, where the Yorktown surrender negotiations occurred.

The Gallery at York Hall will feature works by historian Chris Bonin during October, and Jenny Cote and Alan Hoffman will have book signings 12:30-3 p.m. Oct. 19.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

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