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Outside the 'fence': Dahlgren 4th of July history

Date published: 12/12/2012

The Free Lance-Star published an article, "Dahlgren can't host July 4th fireworks," on Nov. 22. In this article, there is a statement that the Naval Support Activity, South Potomac and the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Department had a partnership with King George government for hosting Fourth of July activities on the Navy base from 1987 to 2008.

This is incorrect. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, had a partnership with the King George government from 1987 to 2004-2005 to support the Independence Day activities on the grounds of the Navy base, and King George government funded the fireworks display that capped the celebration.

The Navy base has a rich history for working with the community outside of the "fence" from the Navy base's establishment in 1918 as the Naval Proving Grounds. The Naval Surface Warfare Center is the direct descendent of the Naval Proving Grounds.

Naval Support Activity, South Potomac arrived at the base in 2004-2005 to take on the responsibilities of the Navy base's caretaker. This included the property that forms the Navy base, all the buildings, all the test sites, and the infrastructure (water, sewer, electric, roads, parking lots, etc.).

Naval Support Activity, South Potomac did not inherit the history of the Navy base. That rightly belongs to Naval Surface Warfare, Dahlgren Division and the other tenant commands.

As the Navy base grounds and all other infrastructure were transitioned to Naval Support Activity, South Potomac, a new partnership had to be developed and put into place. It was then (2006 timeframe) that the Naval Support Activity, South Potomac can rightly state that the command supported Independence Day activities and fireworks display.

N. Cathy Aldous


The writer was a member of the Dahlgren Navy base community from 1976 to 2010.