Jason Irby and the Wabbaseka Memorial Committee greeted friends and visitors at the 5th anniversary ceremony of the Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial Plaza located in the Wabbaseka Community Park on Highway 79 and Myrtle Street in Wabbaseka, Arkansas.
A grand flag ceremony was performed by color guards from the Navy Operational Support Center of Little Rock and the ROTC of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), Dollarway High School, and Pine Bluff High School. Colors were posted by the Pine Bluff High School ROTC.
All Branches Flag
Bestowed to Dollarway High School. Presented by the Pine Bluff High School ROTC.
Arkansas 1924 Flag
Bestowed to Jason Irby, memorial founder and chairman of the Wabbaseka Memorial Committee. Presented by the Pine Bluff High School ROTC.
Willie K. Hocker 1912 Flag
Bestowed to Dr. David Ware, Arkansas State capitol historian. Presented by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff ROTC.
Willie K. Hocker 1913 Flag
Bestowed to Deb Crow, the Arkansas State Fair director. Presented by the Dollarway High School ROTC.
United States Flag
Bestowed to Jason Irby. Presented by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff ROTC.
USS Arkansas CNG 42 Flag
Bestowed to O.C. Horton, a retired veteran from Wabbaseka and sailor aboard the USS Arkansas CNG 42. Presented by the Pine Bluff High School ROTC.
The 5th anniversary of the Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial theme was to recognize several individuals that made significant contributions to the local community, state of Arkansas and the United States.
Theodis Riggins, retired veteran from Wabbaseka, was recognized for service to the United States, the state of Arkansas, to his community, and to his devotion during the inaugural ceremony of the Arkansas Flag/Wabbaseka Memorial. David Ware presented a Capitol Citation on behalf of Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin to Mr. Riggins.
Jeanette Dardenne was recognized with a Certificate of Recognition from the Arkansas Secretary of State for her dedication to the beautification and maintenance of the memorial and adopting the memorial as “her baby”.
Jason Irby, founder and establisher of the memorial, was presented with the Pioneer Award by the Wabbaseka Memorial Committee and with a Capitol Citation from the Arkansas Secretary of State Office.
“I was so surprised when the Wabbaseka Memorial Committee presented me with the Pioneer Award, and then when David Ware presented the Capitol Citation to me, all I could say was wow,” Irby said.
Comments and presentations concerning the flag and veterans memorial were also given by Pastor George Mitchell, Arkansas State Senator Stephanie Flowers, Wabbaseka Mayor Myra Edwards, Wabbaseka Memorial Committee board members O. C. Horton and Marla Jones, International Council of Corvette Clubs (ICCC) President Billy Brooks, ceremony honoree Theodis Riggins, retired veteran Delois Goodloe, and Arkansas National Guard Museum director Dr. Raymond Screws.
The Future of the Wabbaseka Memorial Plaza
Earlier this year, it was discussed among the City of Wabbaseka and the Union Pacific Railroad that the property on which the memorial plaza sits is owned by the railroad. This information came as a shock to memorial founder Jason Irby and the Wabbaseka Memorial Committee being that they received permission from the City of Wabbaseka to place the flag and veterans memorial in 2013.
The Wabbaseka Memorial Committee was brought into the conversation between the City of Wabbaseka and the Union Pacific Railroad during mid-summer. The railroad offered options to the committee to either rent the property space or remove the memorial. This year’s ceremony was conducted at the Wabbaseka Community Center due to these discussions.
Historically during the anniversary ceremony, flags are hoisted up the flag poles in honor of veterans, the Arkansas State flag, and Miss Willie K. Hocker. This year, the flags were presented to patrons by the local ROTC students. Patrons will keep the flags until they can fly over Wabbaseka again.
Additionally, Wabbaseka will also install a new mayor in a few weeks as a result of the 2018 elections.
“I do not want to put any additional financial burdens on the City of Wabbaseka nor place additional expenses on the members and patrons of our flag and veterans memorial. We are currently reviewing offers and options for potential locations and/or funding resources. This memorial was established as a gesture of goodwill to honor and recognize notable historical accounts related to Miss Willie K. Hocker, the Arkansas Flag, and the USS Arkansas Navy battleship concerning this community and state that have far reaching impacts into our nation,” Irby shared.
The memorial was spearheaded by Irby to honor the 100th year anniversary of the Arkansas Flag, USS Arkansas Navy battleship, and to recognize the Arkansas flag designer, Miss Willie K. Hocker of Wabbaseka. The memorial site hosts ceremonies which honors military veterans as well.
Individuals, groups, and organizations can make donations here.