By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville TEA Party will hold a Flag Day Patriotic Rally Tuesday at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex, celebrating the symbol of America with perspectives on its meaning from young and old alike.
Mary Cole, a member of the Starkville TEA Party events team, said although this was the group’s first time staging a Flag Day event, she would like to see the event become annual. The TEA Party normally holds events at Fellowship Baptist Church, she said, but for this event, it turned to the courthouse, just as they did when they hosted three Republican candidates for Mississippi Treasurer in April.
“Just for space and convenience, we were looking for a place in town and not on the edge of town,” Cole said. “We wanted the Sportsplex, but they had a basketball game, and this was the second-best place for us.”
The rally will revolve around two main events. First, the event’s special guest speaker will be Tricia Raymond, author of “America’s Story: A Pictorial History of the Pledge of Allegiance.” Cole said Raymond will also be selling and signing copies of her book.
Cole also said Raymond’s book is aimed at older children, and she is in talks with publishers about a new edition aimed at older readers. While the book features several pictures as its title suggests, it also features a lot of historical information, she said.
“I know her personally, and I knew about this book she had written,” Cole said. “Since it’s Flag Day and we pledge allegiance to the flag, she was the ideal person.”
The second main event is the conclusion of an essay contest titled “What the Flag Means to Me.” The contest is divided up into five categories, one for adults and one each for students in grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12.
Both second and first place winners in each category will receive a signed copy of “America’s Story.” The winners get two more prizes: the opportunity to read their essay to the audience at the rally and a folded American flag that has been flown from atop the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
As of Friday, one day before the contest’s closing date Saturday, Cole said only about a dozen essays were entered in the contest, but they were good essays.
“We’d like to do this again next year and begin in February, and let the schools get involved, let it be part of the curriculum for anybody that wants to receive it,” she said.
Cole said she didn’t have firm details about other elements of the rally, but she does want to have someone reading the Pledge of Allegiance and someone paying tribute to American veterans. She said the latter has a lot to do with what the American flag means to her.
“When I see it, I think of all those who have fought to make this country a great country,” Cole said. “My husband is a former marine. When I listen to all the things he’s been through in his service, I know this country is hard-fought for, and I’m filled with pride, not arrogance, but pride.”