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Washington, D.C. welcomes 99th for annual convention years ago

What is expected to be one of the most memorable of all 99th Infantry Division Association conventions will be held Aug. 31-Sept. 3, 2007, in Washington, D.C.

Special rates of $99 per night have been negotiated with the Hyatt Regency at Crystal City, situated near Reagan National Airport. Contact the hotel at 703-418-1234 to make reservations. Ask for the "99th Group Rate."

The 58th annual convention will kick off Friday, Aug. 31 with a tour, "A Tribute to Our Nation's Heroes," from 1 to 6 p.m. The tour will begin at Arlington National Cemetery where participants will have the opportunity to tour the grounds on the Tourmobile tram. The tour also will stop at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where the "Changing of the Guard" takes place. Stops outside the cemetery will include the recently-erected monument honoring the astronauts aboard the space shuttle, Challenger, and the Iwo Jima Memorial.

At 7 p.m., Col. Charles Biggio and Joe Doherty will have a presentation outlining "The 99th's Role in the Battle of the Bulge." This will take place in one of the meeting rooms at the hotel.

Two tours are scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 1. The first, "U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum," will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Participants will see the permanent exhibition which presents the history of the persecution and murder of 6 million Jews and millions of other victims of Nazi tyranny. The exhibition highlights stories of heroism including the anonymous bravery of those who placed their lives in peril to help others in need.

The second tour is "Magnificent Monuments by Moonlight," scheduled for 7 to 10 p.m. Enjoy our capital's monuments by moonlight in a luxury motor coach. The tour will take participants past the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Smithsonian Mall and the Jefferson Memorial. Stops include the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and finally the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

Other activities throughout the day include the MIA Project Presentation by the Diggers at 3 p.m. The board of directors also will meet at 3 p.m.

Those who attend the convention will be in for a special event on Sunday, Sept. 2. The annual Memorial Service, always a poignant affair at each convention, will take place at World War II Memorial Plaza.

As most 99th (and other WWII) veterans are 80 or 90+ years of age, this may be the last and only opportunity for those of the "greatest generation" to see the memorial which was erected in their honor.

It is awe-inspiring, situated on the Mall between the Washington and Lincoln Memorials.

Motor coaches have been commissioned to transport all 99th veterans and their guests to the Memorial Service.

Depending on the number of people who attend, there will be a series of buses to take people to the memorial. The first buses will begin loading at 8 a.m. at the hotel. The second round of buses will leave at approximately 8:45 a.m.

The Memorial Service will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude by 11 a.m. The first buses will leave for a return trip to the hotel at 11:15 a.m. The second round of buses will leave for the hotel at noon.

There should be plenty of time for those who want to tour the WWII Memorial before or after the Memorial Service.

(Please keep in mind that these times are approximate and the convention committee will do everything in its power to make sure the procedure operates as smoothly as possible. However, as with any event involving a large number of people, there may be some last-minute adjustments.)

At the Memorial Service, the Checkerboard Chorus will conduct its farewell performance, as it will disband after this convention.

This year's Memorial Service truly is one event you will not want to miss.

Although there is no charge to attend the Memorial Service, participants must have tickets. Please specify the number of participants on your registration forms.

Other events scheduled for Sunday include a "Whirlwind Tour of our Capital City," from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

This is a tour of the capital city during the day. It will make its way to Capitol Hill following a route past views of the monuments, the Potomac River, and the White House. There also will be opportunities to see the Senate and House office buildings, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Stops along the way include the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and finally the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

That evening, join your 99th friends and family for a Welcome to Washington Reception at 7 p.m. at the hotel.

Free snacks and cash bars will be provided. Entertainment has been organized by the 99th's very own Arnold Taylor and he promises that everyone will enjoy hearing the Brooks Tegler Combo, which plays "our kind of music."

Events for Monday, Sept. 3 include the ladies' program and business meeting at 10 a.m. The new board of directors will meet at 1 p.m. The MIA Project Presentation will be repeated at 2 p.m.

The convention will culminate with the annual reception and banquet beginning at 6 p.m. The meal will be followed by a short program. Afterward, the Tom Cunningham Big Band will take veterans and their guests on a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Registration will begin Friday and continue at various times Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Keep in mind that the registration desk will not be open until after the Memorial Service on Sunday.

A War Room and Hospitality Room also will be available with times and locations to be announced at the registration desk.

A registration form is available elsewhere in this issue of the Checkerboard.

For more information, call Donna Bernhardt, (620) 382-2165 (office) or e-mail donna@99div.com or donna.bernhardt@sbcglobal.net.

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