The Van Buren Public Library dedicated its new flag pole during a ceremony held at the front steps of the building.
“We’re very excited to have a new flag pole,” said Bridgette Waid, the library’s adult services coordinator. “It’s a really neat thing that we have this and we wanted to have a little ceremony so we could share it with our patrons. We’re gathered here for an important patriotic and solemn occasion, to witness the dedication of the flag of our country and dedicate our flag pole.”
The American flag, which was given to the library by state representative Gary Deffenbaugh, was raised first and was followed by the Arkansas state flag. The flag pole itself was donated anonymously to the library.
Before the flags were raised Eva White, the director of the Crawford County library system, read a poem entitled “I Am the Flag,” written by Ruth Apperson Rous.
Van Buren Mayor Joe Hurst then addressed the crowd, assuring them it was his intention to keep the library as a top priority in the city, just as his predecessor, Bob Freeman, had done when establishing the library at its current location in 2011.
“I can’t take the credit for leading the effort to build this building,” Hurst said. “We can thank Mayor Freeman for that along with the many volunteers who took the time to put the word out why it’s important to invest in a public library. But I’m just really grateful to live in a city that still values a public library, that invested in this years ago. I’m grateful for the many volunteers who spend their hours here investing in the community. I’m so grateful that we have Danalene Porter who has invested so much time and sweat and tears and blood and everything into this awesome library. And to Eva White as well being over the county and all the work she’s put into this.”
Hurst said while many people might feel libraries have outlived their purpose in this age of computers and the internet, he explained that he still believes in libraries and has experienced first hand their importance.
“So often people miss the point and they don’t realize how many lives this library touches,” he said. Just the other day I was going to be reading to a class in the school district and couldn’t find a book I was looking for, so I came to the library and found it.”
He continued, “We have some many needs in the community and this library meets those needs. I decided when I was able to take the reins from Mayor Freeman to continue to invest in this library and to continue to prioritize it. I look forward to continuing to invest in this library.”
He said visiting the Van Buren Library has special meaning for another reason.
“It’s special to me because my grandma and grandpa’s Hays Food Grocery Store used to be on this site,” he said. “So it has a special place in my heart for that reason, but also for all the different services it provides.”
Jennifer Brammer then sang the National Anthem before Sargeant Gerald Phillips led Van Buren High School JROTC in raising the two flags.
Both Hurst and Waid thanked Van Buren Property Maintenance and Parks Manager Paul Dunn for the work he and his crew did in installing the flag pole.
“I want to thank Paul for his hard work in getting it put in,” said Waid. “He had a really good crew working with him. And not only for this, but he’s always coming to rescue us and we’re very appreciative of the work he does for us.”
Hust said, “I’m also grateful for Paul and the city staff for all the great work they’ve put in to maintain this building.”
Waid said, “We’re very lucky to live in a country where you can go to any library and choose what you want to read and to check out any book that you want. We’re very blessed to be able to have that privilege here in this country.”