Anchors Aweigh

John Warner honored with Maritime Center dedication.

    Reenactors of the Continental Navy of 1776 aboard the Tall Ship Providence at the June 22 dedication of the Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center at Waterfront Park.

The Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center was formally dedicated June 22 with friends, family members and dignitaries in attendance to pay tribute to the former Secretary of the Navy and longtime Alexandria resident.

“John was a Navy sailor, a Marine, Secretary of the Navy, and a beloved son of Virginia and Alexandria,” said Scott Shaw, president of The Tall Ship Providence Foundation. “It was an easy decision to name this center after him and we are honored that he and Jeanne chose to work with us.”

Warner, who died in 2021 at the age of 94, served three decades as a U.S. senator from Virginia. His widow Jeanne, daughter Mary Warner Conover and son John Warner IV were in attendance at the dedication.

“More than 100 of John’s former staffers are here today,” said Jeanne Warner. “This is such a great tribute to him. John had a great bond with Alexandria. He loved living here and would be thrilled to be here today.”

Among the dignitaries in attendance was former Secretary of the Navy Richard J. Danzig.

“There are so many things to celebrate in John Warner,” Danzig said. “His uniqueness in having served as a 17-year-old young sailor, then after college serving as a Marine, then to go on later in life to such remarkable accomplishments – including as Secretary of the Navy and U.S. senator for three decades. This is an amazing combination of things.”

Danzig continued, “John always valued his early experiences, his small, lesser status start for him with his days in uniform. With John, I came to see that it isn’t the qualities of achievement that matter for statesmen and stateswomen, it’s qualities of character and his character always shone through.”

Located at Waterfront Park, the center is the new permanent home for the Tall Ship Providence, which formally opened to public tours earlier this month.

Shaw founded the Tall Ship Providence Foundation in 2017 when the ship was acquired, restored and brought to Alexandria.

Built in 1976, Providence is a replica of the first naval warship commissioned by the Continental Congress in 1775. The original builder of the replica, John Millar, was in attendance at the dedication.

“I was living in Providence in 1974 and as the nation’s bicentennial was approaching, I wanted to have a Revolutionary War ship so that people could see what they looked like,” said Millar, who was dressed in period attire of a captain of the Continental Navy of 1776. “I put together a board of directors and raised the money to build the Sloop Providence, the first ship of the U.S. Navy.”

Clair Sussin, president and CEO of the Tall Ship Providence Foundation said the center has been a work in progress for several years.

“The Center has been in progress for six years,” Sussin said. “It started with an idea that our board chair, Scott Shaw, had. His perseverance and vision were critical in bringing the center to life.”

Mayor Justin Wilson echoed the words of others in saying that Warner was the perfect person to honor in naming the center.

“We found a perfect namesake for this center in John Warner,” Wilson said. “He was such a patriot, such a fierce defender of our nation. We could not have come up with a better person to honor in this center, which helps achieve a vision of having a ship along this waterfront.”

Added Sussin, “We were thrilled when John agreed to have the center named after him and we are excited to be the reason people visit Alexandria and the DMV.”