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National Harbor honors veterans with Spirit Park opening

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Spencer Slocum,
  • 316th Wing Public Affairs

 

Government officials, military leaders, and spectators honored past and present service members on Veterans Day at the National Harbor, Md., Nov. 11, 2022.

This year’s observance marked 104 years of celebrating Armistice Day, signaling the end of World War I. Harbor officials honored the occasion with the unveiling of a 50-foot tall and 80-foot wide custom-made American flag and the grand opening of Spirit Park in honor of veterans.

The flag is one of the largest flying flags in the country and is hoisted on a flag pole 177-feet and 7-inches tall. The flag is surrounded by 13 smaller flags, each of which were raised at a significant American landmark throughout the region.

The flags were transported to the National Harbor from their locations through multiple modes of transportation. Flag carriers delivered their individual flags by means such as a boat, swimming, running and cycling.

One member in particular, retired Tech. Sgt. Eric Heideman, Air Force wounded warrior, rode his recumbent bike from JBA to Spirit Park, where he then raised the flag. 

Veterans, servicemembers and first responders joined in the ceremony to help raise their flags for the first time too.

Col. Todd E. Randolph, 316th Wing and installation commander, was invited as a keynote speaker for the event.

“Today, on Veterans Day we gather here to recognize our Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Space Force veterans who have sacrificed, both in war and in peace, to protect America and the American way of life,” said Randolph. “We are here to honor our brave service members who have proudly served this great Nation, for they are the fabric from which our flag has been woven.”

After the raising of the flag, the event continued with the playing of the Air Force Band’s original song “This Flag” where the crowd shared a moment of musical harmony.

“Watching the flags rise for the first time was really touching,” said Miranda Dillsworth, event attendee. “It inspired a sense of patriotism inside of me and reminded me even though we all come from different backgrounds, we came together to celebrate something we should all appreciate.”

The event concluded with a display of fireworks and more patriotic music performed by the Air Force band.

“It is truly an honor to be involved in such a monumental ceremony,” said Randolph. “I just want to say thank you to all and happy Veterans Day.”