For the past seven years, volunteers from the Flag Day Committee have worked to share a local tradition with Snellville and the surrounding community.
To these volunteers, Flag Day is a day for reflection. President Woodrow Wilson established the celebration in 1916 as a day to commemorate the American symbol created in 1977. After 242 years, the spangled banner has gained stripes, and Flag Day has become a cherished tradition in the City of Snellville.
“For us in the City of Snellville, Flag Day 2019 was planned and organized to be held at the Snellville Masonic Lodge, where Ole Glory will be flying high on the Lodges newly installed flag pole. We went along with that and had been planning it for months,” said Mike Sabbagh, a former member of Snellville’s City Council. Sabbagh also serves on the Flag Day Committee and is a member of Masonic Lodge No. 99 where the 2019 Flag Day Celebration took place on June 15 from 10 to 11 a.m.
Since the city’s very first Flag Day celebration dating back to 2012, Snellville’s mayors including Kelly Kautz, Tom Witts and most recently, Barbara Bender, made a proclamation stating that Flag Day would be celebrated each year on June 14. Since then, local representatives, volunteers, and organizations have banded together to fulfill that promise.
Per a select request from U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, the flag was specially dedicated and flown over our nation’s capital for the Snellville event. It was then received by the Flag Day committee chair Mike Sabbagh. The VFW Post 4180 folded and prepared the flag to be transferred to the Snellville Police Department Color Guard during the official flag presentation. The Color Guard presented the banner which was hitched to a pole during the ceremony by US Navy veteran and a member of the Snellville Masonic Lodge, Dexter Harrison.
Other players in the event were Mr. Mack Brannan of Snellville Masonic Lodge who gave the keynote speech. According to Sabbagh, Congressman Rob Woodall even participated in years gone by. “These folks helped contribute to Flag Day because they know what this symbol of freedom means to all,” Sabbagh said.
Flag Day members were honored to have Senator P.K. Martin of District 9 as one of the event’s guest speakers. “I loved the zeal and points presented by the speakers who spoke about community service, contribution and giving back. Because of the dedication and sacrifices of the many, we have Flag Day. We are thankful to every volunteer and all the politicians, who have come out to support us over the years,” Sabbagh said.
Mayor Pro Tem Dave Emmanuel read the Proclamation as drafted by the city’s Mayor Barbra Bender. Mr. Xeron Pledger, representing Congressman Hank Johnson, also gave a brief speech highlighting the Flag Day event.
After the festivities, guests were invited inside the lodge for chicken biscuits and cookies donated by Chick-Fill-A on Hwy. 78 and by Stone Mountain Volkswagen.
The Stone Mountain Barbershop Quartet sang the national anthem. Many others from the community came out to volunteer and show their support. Some of those include the Boy Scouts as well as the Girl Scouts of America, Anniston Road Baptist Church, Snellville City Council Members, The Philadelphia Winn Chapter (DAR) and the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 90, local area Masons, the Snellville Lions Club, and others.
Flag Day also commemorates the birth of the US Army, ranking the June Holiday amongst the most patriotic events of the year, although Sabbagh notes, “I don’t know if any other neighboring city has a formal celebration the way we do for this event.”
But none of it would be possible if not for the Flag Day Committee members including Ms. Pat Sims, Ms. Ranate Patrick, Mr. Jim Jackson who is the commander of the VFW Post 4180, Mr. Warren Auld and Mike Sabbagh.
In recognition of the veterans, volunteers, and representatives who came out, Sabbagh said, “All have gone above the call of duty to serve. These folks gave their time to recognize those in the armed forces, and support our symbol of freedom; I am grateful to all; because freedom isn’t free.”
Visitors can see the 2019 USA flag flown over the capital by order of Senator Isakson’s now flying to this day at the Snellville Masonic Lodge. It will remain there until its ready to be retired. For additional information, visit the Facebook page, “SnellvilleFlagDay” or email a committee member at SnellvilleFlagDay@gmail.com.