The Butler Center of Arkansas Studies recently released “It’s Official! The Real Stories Behind Arkansas’s State Symbols,” authored by David Ware, a historian of the Arkansas State Capitol. It’s Official is a volume of essays that examine each of Arkansas’ officially designed symbols, outlining their beginnings, their significance at the time of their adoption, and their place in modern Arkansas.
On January 1, 2013, Wabbaseka native Jason Irby pledged to establish a memorial in Wabbaseka Community Park that would honor and commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the Arkansas state flag, Miss Willie K. Hocker (flag designer from Wabbaseka), and the Navy battleship USS Arkansas.
Irby attended Willie K. Hocker Elementary and Junior High School, J S Walker Schools, and Wabbaseka High School while growing up around Wabbaseka.
On February 26, 2013 a commemoration and ground breaking ceremony for the Arkansas Flag-Wabbaseka Memorial was held. Resolutions were read and adopted by the Arkansas House of Representatives and Governor’s Office. Several people attended the event consisting of community members, presenters and supporters.
On October 12, 2013 Irby and the Wabbaseka Memorial Committee presented a dedication and showcase ceremony. The ceremony was preceded by a motorcade that began at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas where the flag was first presented to the public at the 1913 Arkansas State Fair. Receiving warn and enthused welcomes the motorcade stopped in Little Rock, home of the current Arkansas State Fair, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas, county seat of Jefferson County. By February 2014 the flag and veterans memorial plaza was completed.
On February 26, 2014 the 101st anniversary of the Adoption of Arkansas’ flag, Irby and the Wabbaseka Memorial Committee presented the finalized Arkansas Flag-Wabbaseka Memorial Plaza to the public at Wabbaseka Community Park in Wabbaseka, Arkansas.
“David Ware invited me to the Butler Center Books Fall Release Party back in November. While there during his book signing and presentation, he showed me page 41 where the entry of the Arkansas Flag-Wabbaseka Memorial story began. I was surprised, honored, and humbled. To have my community and historical efforts written in a current history book by an Arkansas official state historian is phenomenal! It has often been my intent to be an ambassador of goodwill and now it is noted in pages of Arkansas’ history,” Irby stated.
The latest addition to the memorial plaza includes a two vehicle handicap parking pad. Future additions will include appropriate plaques, a recognition plaque for area veterans, and plaza lighting.
For more information, you may visit http://m.pbcommercial.com/accent/features/arkansas-history-project-includes-irby-s-efforts.
You can follow the story of the Arkansas Flag-Wabbaseka Memorial by visiting http://www.arkansasflagwabbasekamemorial.wordpress.com. You can follow author Jason Irby by visiting http://www.jasonirby.wordpress.com.