From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Celebrating Our Veteran’s In the Harbor

By Lani Gering

This year marks the first anniversary of Spirit Park. While it got off to a slow start, it was sure worth the wait. The park opened last year on Veterans’ Day and is designed to honor the history of the American flag and all of those who represent it—veterans, first responders, public servants and Americans across the USA. It

has proven to be a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. There are lots of activities planned on the 11th as we celebrate not only the anniversary but also Veteran’s Day. I want to thank Kimberly Jorden from Bendure Communications for getting me the details of the day:

National Harbor to Hold Spirit Park Celebration on Veterans Day!

The festivities will commemorate the park’s one year anniversary with a walk/run, sealing of a Patriot’s Value time capsule, performance by U.S. Air Force Band and the Harbor tree lighting!

The day will begin at Spirit Park at 10 a.m. with a walk/run that will benefit The Check-6 Foundation. Since its inception in 2004, The Check-6 Foundation has assisted hundreds of veterans in need in paying their bills, receiving medical attention, finding jobs and so much more. It also continues to provide an unforgettable experience for children battling serious illnesses (and their families) through its Pilot for a Day Program nationwide. “Check-6” is a military term used to reference an aviator’s practice of checking his wingman’s 6 o’clock position (directly behind him) to ensure it is clear of any threat. Simply put, it means “I’ve got your back and am looking out for you.” Participants in the walk/run must register at: The cost is $24.25 for civilians, $13.58 for military. There will be a pancake breakfast (early bird pricing is $13.58) in Spirit Park following the walk/run.

From 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., National Harbor will host the sealing of a Patriot’s Value time capsule at Spirit Park that will contain a variety of items and memorabilia commemorating the park’s opening as well as National Harbor’s opening more than 15 years ago. Aerial photos, an American flag that has flown over the park, a challenge coin, list of long-term employees, a chip from the grand opening of MGM National Harbor and more will be included—approximately two dozen items. Also, during this time, the U.S. Air Force Band Max Impact will perform.

The Capital Wheel will provide free wheel rides from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for active and retired military. A military ID is required. Military family will receive the military discount.

At 5:30, National Harbor will hold its inaugural 2023 holiday tree lighting when its breathtaking 60-foot tree comes to life with a custom light show and holiday medley recorded by the United States Air Force Band. Patriotic fireworks will follow the tree lighting.

Since its opening a year ago, Spirit Park has seen thousands of visitors. The park features a 50 by 80-foot custom-made flag (flown on special occasions including Veterans Day.) It is one of the largest flags in the U.S. It flies on a flag pole that is 177 feet and 7 inches tall commemorating the first Flag Day on June 14, 1777. It’s surrounded by 13 smaller flags representing the 13 colonies. These flags initially arrived by representatives from around the region who walked, ran, biked and swam the flags over to National Harbor.

A few of the many additional elements of the park include Union Tower that rings daily and marks significant occasions with patriotic songs and American Bison sculptures, created by John Lopez.

Spirit Park is located at 115 Waterfront Street. You can’t miss it since it is right on the corner as you turn into the downtown area. For more information on Spirit Park, visit


Titanic Exhibit Update

As promised in last month’s column, I did tour the exhibit. It is worth the money ($33.50 adult admission) if you are interested in taking advantage of the entire audio guide tour that walks you through every aspect of the exhibit with stories about the passengers and testimonies from survivors (hence the 80 minutes). Bring your smartphone and headphones if you don’t want to pay for the audio guide earphones. I tried it for about 15 minutes but it moved way too slow for me. In fact, I barely made it through the water slogging scenes in the movie Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio. My pal hung in there for much longer but he is also a big fan the details of the history where I am all about the highlights and interactivity.

The exhibits are well executed and you actually feel like you are walking down the hallway of the First Class Cabins when you “enter” the ship. I have always been intrigued with “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and the exhibit pays a nice tribute to her.

I looked at several reviews on the exhibit when it was in New York City and had friends tell me it was fantastic so I was prepared to be way impressed.  I was impressed with the caliber of the artifacts and the static exhibits, but can’t say that anything “wowed” me enough to pay $33.50 to do it again. On the flip side of that, my friend said he thought the price tag was very fair as the narration pulled him into the experience. This being said, if you are a history buff – especially where the Titanic is concerned – and love the details, reserve your tickets now. The exhibit is scheduled to run through December 10th.

Titanic: The Exhibition

254 Mariner Passage

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