Peachy Times in the Peach State. Flag for Hope spends some time in Georgia meeting Atlanta Braves ,3-time gold medalist Mary T.
Gustave Flaubert once said “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” On our trip through Georgia we not only discovered how vast and wonderful our world is, but also how welcoming and kind. The warmth and love we received from the denizens of Atlanta and the surrounding areas were the true definition of southern hospitality.
The weather for Thursday had threatened to climb into the triple digits, we were lucky to be greeted at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport by beautiful summertime weather. This auspicious fortune was a sure sign of things to come, setting the tone for a trip full of pleasant surprises.
We began by setting up at Centennial Olympic Park, a major destination in Atlanta for visitors and residents alike. The park was created as part of the preparation for the 1996 Olympic games. For many this location is remembered as the site of a tragic bombing that took place during the 1996 Olympic games. The significance of the park and its history reminded us of the importance of Flag for Hope and the need for each of us to engender unity and hope for all of humanity. We also met some incredible people, like Macie and Deborah, who were so thrilled to be able to contribute to the project that they offered to volunteer with us the next day!
Friday morning we began our day at the ZӦe Center for Pediatric & Adolescent Health, where we met doctors and nurses, as well as the young patients attending the facility that day. Dr. Stephanie Kong, CEO of ZӦe Pediatrics, along with her husband Dr.Wayne Kong, were kind enough to contribute their impressions to the Flag. Born in Japan and Jamaica, respectively, the Kong’s expressed joy and gratitude to be American citizens. Wayne put it beautifully when he said, “We should give a better impression to all in life– not just on this flag.”
After a fantastic morning with our new friends, we packed up once again to move on to Greatest Generation Park in Thomaston, GA. Between the beautiful scenery and smiling faces of people who had come to make their impressions, we were just blown away with all the park had to offer. While sharing stories and getting to know some of the locals, we met Randy, who is a retired firefighter. He knew the Thomaston Fire Department would not want to miss this historic opportunity and set up a visit for us. Before we stopped by the Fire Department, we also made time to soak up a little of the local art scene outside the Atlanta Office of Cultural Arts while collecting impressions and stories from people in the area.
After we had discussed the true meaning of the Flag for Hope, the Chief and everyone at the station was ready to make their impression and share their story. We were especially moved by the conversations we had about some of the firefighters’ family members who are serving in our armed forces overseas. It was obvious that the commitment to protecting their community both near and from afar was a priority for these amazing people.
Saturday morning began with a trip to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Martin Luther King Jr National Park, home of the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King, his father, and grandfather all preached. These monuments stand as a reminder of Dr.King’s tireless efforts to build a world that offered hope and opportunity for all its’ citizens– a message that speaks to the core of our mission. The Pastor and church members opened their hearts to us and made us feel as if we were instantly part of the family. Being able to contribute Dr. King’s goals in our own special way was a truly moving experience that left us both moved and humbled.
After an emotional morning we picked up the Flag and carried on to Woodruff Park, a calm enclave of tranquility right in the heart of downtown Atlanta. As we collected impressions and connected with the other visitors to the park we received some unexpected (but very exciting) news: an invite to Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves!
Mike Plant, Olympic Speedskating champion and Executive Vice President for the Atlanta Braves, was so gracious in inviting us to visit Turner Field. All of our team was thrilled to wrap up our trip with such an illustrious occasion. Hopes were high as we traveled to the stadium, but no one was prepared for the surprises the Braves had in store for us. We met not only with Mike, but also his wife, 3-time gold medalist Mary T. Meagher Plant, as well as Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell. While the thrill of having three decorated athletes adding their impression was still fresh in our minds, we were invited to witness a rehearsal of the National Anthem performed by Grammy-nominated artist J Holiday. The combination of these American icons contributing their support to Flag for Hope, and the breathtaking rendition of our national song left us each feeling truly grateful to be a part of this project and nation.
After such an exciting journey it was difficult to say goodbye to Atlanta, but duty calls and the Flag for Hope has many more locales to visit, and many more people to meet! Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates on our journey and hints about our route– your neighborhood could be next! See you soon, America!
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