The Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial was founded by Jason Irby in 2013. Jason is an Author and Humanitarian who grew up in Wabbaseka and attended the public schools around the city. Jason attended Willie K. Hocker Elementary/Jr. Highs schools, J. S. Walker Elementary/ Jr. High schools and Wabbaseka High School.
On January 1, 2013, Jason called a press conference where he pledged to establish a memorial in Wabbaseka City Park to commemorate the 100th year of Arkansas’ State flag. Jason stated that the memorial would honor Arkansas’ Flag, Willie K. Hocker (flag designer from Wabbaseka), and the Navy’s battleship USS Arkansas. By the following week, the Wabbaseka Memorial Committee was formed. With Jason as chairman of the committee, they proceeded to organize a ceremony commemorating the flag’s 100th anniversary and fulfill the pledge that Jason had announced. Jason Irby, Marla Barnes, Narvell Irby, Geraldine Moore, Jeanette Dardenne, Verlee Moore, Gary Robinson, and Gloria Scott were the initial members.
On February 26, 2013 a ceremony was held to commemorate Arkansas’s Flag 100th year official adoption date. A groundbreaking ceremony was also held at the site for the pledged memorial.
On May14, 2013 Jason announced the official design contest in Hot Springs, Arkansas at the Arkansas Libraries Paraprofessionals Conference. Jason was a guest speaker and presented an exhibit about the memorial and how information gathered from libraries eventually lead him to spearhead the year filled with historical flag related events.
On October 12, 2013 the Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial Showcase and Dedication Ceremony was held at Wabbaseka City Park, Wabbaseka, Arkansas. The Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial was revealed to the public. A motorcade began in Hot Springs, Arkansas at Oaklawn Park where the Arkansas Flag was first revealed to the people of Arkansas at the 1913 Arkansas State Fair. The motorcade stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas, home of the current Arkansas State Fair and was greeted with a reception and presented with flags to be flown at the memorial site. The motorcade then proceeded to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the county seat of Jefferson County, where Willie K. Hocker taught and lived. The motorcade ended in Wabbaseka (home town of Miss Hocker) and was greeted by an enthused crowd.
The commemoration event was a great success and drew media attention from many media sources. The military, state and local government, community and regional guests, Dollarway High School and many other supporters and well wishers attended the ceremony. As you view the panels around the Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial Park, the story will begin to come to life.
Jason Irby – Concept and Project Development
Wabbaseka Memorial Committee – Project Development
Charles Barnes SR Construction – Concrete Foundation and Finishing
JD Irby Plumbing and Excavation – Pole Setting and Excavation
Wabbaseka Park Committee – Landscape Services and Development
Donald Manning – Brick Pavers and Masonry
Shirley Washington Contracting – Landscaping
HK Steward Creative Services – Graphic Design
Paul Hoover, UAPB Art Department – Exhibit Designer
Altura Graphics – Signage and Printing
Special thanks to Senator Stephanie Flowers, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who sponsored bill SR13 and to Judge Dutch King of Jefferson County.