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        5 Places in Hampton Roads to Host A Military Ceremony: Pinning, Re-enlistment, or Retirement

        Its my mission to get you OUT of the cinderblock walls and into a beautiful location that will make your ceremony memorable, AND the images more beautiful. Just stepping outside is a huge improvement.

        Real talk: photos inside the conference room are ugly and boring. But I tend think these events need more attention, especially as you or your spouse gets closer to the end of your career.

        It’s common to hire a photographer, or at the very least, designate a friend to make sure spouses and family members are IN the photos, not just taking them. 

        So I’ve done all the work!

        I’ve contacted all the venues and compiled a list of their points of contact, permits, and linked to both their websites and map locations!

        What is a military pinning ceremony? 

        Military pinning ceremony is the promotion ceremony where the service member is being promoted to his/her next rank and is “pinning on” the new insignia (link:https://www.defense.gov/Resources/Insignia/) of that rank. 

        What happens during a military pinning ceremony? 

        Every branch of service has their own order of events or traditions for a pinning or promotion ceremony.

        In the Marine Corps:

        1. There’s a formation or informal gathering of peers
        2. The promoting officer speaks about the service and character of the service member being promoted
        3. The commission or citation is read aloud
        4. Usually family members pin on the new rank
        5. The newly pinned service member says a few words of gratitude for family and peers. 

        It’s common for the service member to hire a photographer, or at the very least, designate a friend to make sure spouses and family members are IN the photos, not just taking them. 

        Where do people DO their pinning or re-enlistment ceremonies?

        Many take place in a conference room, especially for junior ranks. 

        But I want you to think outside of the cinder block walls! 

        Here are the best places in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Hampton Roads for a military pinning or re-enlistment:

        1. Deck of the USS Wisconsin, The Nauticus, Norfolk

        The Nauticus is part maritime & ocean museum, part interactive science center with the USS Wisconsin battleship on site. Nauticus is also home to the Hampton Roads Naval Museum run by the US Navy.

        The Wisconsin is one of the largest battleships built by the Navy.

        It’s a common site for commissioning, reenlistments, retirements and promotion ceremonies. The ceremonies are organized by the Hampton Roads Naval Museum at no charge.

        2. Great Bridge Battlefield & Museum, Chesapeake

        The Battle of Great Bridge happened in December 1775, and was a patriot victory in the Revolutionary War, that kept the British out of Norfolk – the best sea port between New York and South Carolina.

        Battle Field Park is now operated by the City of Chesapeake with the Battlefield History Foundation & Museum on site. The Museum tells the history of the Battle of Great Bridge and is a reasonable $8 entry fee.

        The park is mostly manicured lawn with winding walkways along the Elizabeth River and a central monument.

        It’s located on the northern bank of the Elizabeth river, right off South Battlefield Blvd.

        • Contact: Chesapeake Parks & Rec, Josh Fisher event coordinator 757.382.1312
        • Permits:
        • Fees:

        3. Military Aviation Museum, Pungo, Virginia Beach

        The Military Aviation Museum is one of the largest privately owned collections of WWI & WWII military aircraft in the world. Most of the planes are restored to original condition.

        The museum offers venue rentals, which could be suitable for retirements.

        4. MacArthur Memorial, Norfolk

        “The MacArthur Memorial is a museum and research center dedicated to preserving and presenting the story of the life of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. The Memorial also pays tribute to the millions of men and women who served with General MacArthur in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.”

        The Memorial is a museum, archive, research center & more in downtown Norfolk, VA.

        The entrance is a grand rotunda

        Admission is free!

        5. Fort Monroe, Hampton

        Fort Monroe is a decommissioned army base with its own moat! Yes, an actual moat with water in the shape a star! Its now run by the National Park Service as a national monument.

        Many of the original buildings are still in tact, including one that Abraham Lincoln stayed in overnight. The lighthouse is a big attraction too.

        The parade deck is has several live oaks that make for some gorgeous images on a full sun afternoon. But, be warned the buildings are also private residences. You could be in someone’s yard or have an extra audience.

        Ft. Monroe has several indoor locations for events:

        Hi! I’m Alison!

        I find joy in chaos. The louder, the better!

        I’m a chaos-commanding family photographer thriving in the loud & messy.

        I love freezing time, photographing families in their own element at home, or on the beach!

        I’m  the ring leader of four boy circus, half-homeschooling USMC family, currently in Virginia Beach, VA!

        Follow the antics on IG @alisonbellphotog!