Meet the Spirit Park Flag Ambassadors
Spirit Park, National Harbor’s newest venue is a true patriotic tribute to the American flag. Every inch of the park was designed with intention and revolves around the main attraction – one of the largest flying flags in the United States. Thirteen smaller American flags surround the park, representing the 13 original colonies.
In these weeks leading up to the opening ceremony, these 13 flags were flown at different iconic American sites. A cast of veterans, first responders and civilians had the honor of transporting each from their original location to their new home in Spirit Park. Each flag’s journey to the park took a different form. Some walked, some ran, some cycled, some even swam their way to National Harbor.
Learn more about our flag ambassadors below.
United States Capitol
Kent Digby and other National Harbor team members walked their flag from the United States Capitol. Kent served four years in the Navy before he entered property management. Today, he is Executive Vice President Asset Management, Operations, and Marketing of National Harbor and the driving force behind Spirit Park.
US Coast Guard Station Washington
Seaman Genesis Morales-Ramos delivered her flag by boat from US Coast Guard Station Washington located on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. She is a mom and wife and originally from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. She has a bachelor’s degree in Science of Nursing which made her see and appreciate life even more. Her dream is to have a successful career, do great things, and be an even greater leader.
United States Naval Academy
United States Marine Corps Major General James Adams and Sergeant First Class Jonathon Jenkins biked their flag from the United States Naval Academy.
US Marine Corps Major General Adams, a US Naval Academy Graduate flew helicopters in the US Marine Corps and has been deployed to locations all around the world and spent a number of deployments operating from Navy ships. He is a third-generation military member- his Dad was a Marine and his Grandfather was in the Army. He is currently assigned to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon and works on Joint Requirements and helps develop future capabilities for the Department of Defense.
Sergeant First Class Jonathon Jenkins is currently serving with 22 years of active duty service. He has coached youth sports in some capacity and volunteered in community outreach programs in every community that he has ever been stationed.
Flight 93 National Memorial
Len Forkas, Brian Daum, Steve Gurney and Joe Knill, biked their flag 197 miles from the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Len Forkas is the founder of HopeCam, a nonprofit founded in 2003 that supports children with cancer by connecting them to friends and classmates using technology. Len Is also the former chair of Educate Fairfax, the foundation of Fairfax County Public Schools.
Brian Daum is deeply committed to supporting the local community through many years of coaching and charitable work through his church. Additionally, Brian volunteers with HopeCam. He crewed Len Forkas Hopecam team's Race Across America efforts in 2012 and 2017. He is currently the CFO of Babel Street, a commercial software company and mentors up and coming business associates.
Steve Gurney is the founder of the Positive Aging Community and Sourcebook which connects older adults, families, and senior-serving professionals to foster creative solutions. He is a Level 2 Adaptive Snowboard Instructor, coaching people with disabilities at Liberty Mountain Resort in the winter months. He is a leader in a wide variety of community building initiatives in Reston, VA where he lives with his family.
Joe Knill is a proud husband to wife Kim and father to daughters MacKenzie and Kaitlin. He is a Program Manager with a government contracting company in the Washington DC metro area. Joe has been a volunteer with the Hopecam charity since 2013, serving as a crew member for the 12-day bike event Race Across America in 2012.
Tom Hull and Jennifer Mitchel swam their flag from Fort Washington.
Tom Hull is a Navy Veteran who served as a nuclear-qualified Surface Warfare Officer. He then transitioned to the Naval Reserve and served in a variety of Naval Reserve Units at the Pentagon. Tom has been swimming with Wave One since its inaugural swim at National Harbor in 2009 and has swum twice weekly at National Harbor since then.
Jennifer Mitchell is a Virginia Special Olympics swimmer who has been with Wave One Open Water since 2011. She was the first Special Olympics swimmer to swim across the Potomac River to National Harbor for the Washington’s Crossing Swim. Jennifer also is the Gold Medalist at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Dubai, U.A.E. for the women’s 1200m open water swim.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Lieutenant Colonel Amanda Barnett ran her flag from George Washington’s Mount Vernon. She was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the U.S. Army Military Police Corps in 2005 upon graduating from the University of Southern California Santa Barbara. In 2009, Amanda switched her military occupational specialty (or branch) to Military Intelligence. Lieutenant Colonel has been deployed to Germany, Afghanistan, Japan, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Tunsia, and Yemen throughout her military career. Today, Amanda serves as the Battalion Commander of the Strategic Resources Activity at the Army Field Support Center under INSCOM. When not at work, Amanda’s passion is on the trails where she can be found running extremely long distances, having just finished her twelfth 100-mile ultramarathon this past August.
Prince George’s County
The Prince George’s First Responders brought in their flag via firetruck. The flag was flown at the county’s Fallen Heroes Memorial and at Prince George’s County Fire House 30.
Gunnery Sergeant Stewart biked his flag from Arlington National Cemetery. He has served with “The Commandant's Own”, United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps for 21 years. During this time he has served as a soprano bugler and supported numerous funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. He has also served as the Operations Chief, Administrative Chief, Training Chief and many other key billets within the company. When not serving our country, Gunnery Sergeant Stewart enjoys volunteering at his children’s school events as well as cycling, hiking, and woodworking.
Joint Base Andrews
Air Force Wounded Warrior, Technical Sergeant Eric Heideman (Retired) rode his recumbent bike from Joint Base Andrews. He had 20 amazing years of service in the Air Force which included 9 deployments of which 3 were to Afghanistan where he was wounded on combat. He is accompanied by his wonderful wife and best friend of 26 years, Crystal whom they share a son, daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.
Corporal Brandon Johnson and Sergeant Eric Donaldson ran their flag from the Marine Barracks.
Corporal Johnson has served as a non-commissioned officer Drum Major twice, been selected as NCO of the quarter, and has represented “The Commandant's Own”, United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps at multiple battalion level competitive boards. He has served as a mellophone bugler and supported numerous funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. When he is off duty, Corporal Johnson enjoys volunteering and has spent over 90 hours serving in the community.
Sergeant Donaldson has served as the drill master for “The Commandant's Own”, United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps for three years. He has served as a soprano bugler and supported numerous funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. He is currently selected for promotion to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Off Duty, Sergeant Donaldson is a head instructor at a local high school marching band.
Jaimie Young ran her flag from the Pentagon. She proudly served as a Military Police Officer. She comes from a long line of military service members that include her Dad (retired) Chief Warrant Officer Tom Cronin, her great grandfather Major Brigadier General Albert Pierson, and her sister Theresa Johnson who is currently a Master Sergeant in the Air Force. Ms Young has been with the Peterson Companies for 10 years where she currently works as the development operations manager.
9/11 New York Memorial
Joe Minogue flew his flag over FDNY Engine 10 and Ladder 10. He is a retired FDNY lieutenant and flew his flag. In the days and weeks after September 11th, Joe played taps at hundreds of funerals and memorial services. Joe was a field lieutenant and the commanding officer of the FDNY ceremonial unit. As the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation liaison to the FDNY he plays a pivotal role in the bond since September 11th, 2001.
National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
Bill Hinton had his flag flown at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He joined the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) as a Memorial Weekend volunteer in 2001, after returning from New York City as part of the 9/11 Foundation Response Team. Bill became a full-time employee in 2018 and he is currently focused on corporate relations and fundraising. In addition to his work with the NFFF, Bill served twenty-three years as a firefighter with the Prince George’s County Fire Department.