Springfield marks Haitian Flag Day at City Hall ceremony

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

‘I stand before you with a heart filled with gratitude and appreciation,’ Haitian community member says.

The Haitian and U.S. flags were raised side-by-side at a ceremony outside Springfield City Hall to commemorate Haitian Flag Day on Thursday morning.

Around 50 community members gathered at the City Hall Plaza to celebrate the growing Haitian population in Springfield, the country’s independence from France and the raising of the Haitian Flag on May 18, 1803. Mayor Warren Copeland proclaimed May 18, 2023, as Haitian Flag Day in Springfield, and city leaders appreciated the community’s impact on the city.

Harriett Jones, an event planner who helped plan the Haitian Flag Day Festival that will take place at the Veteran’s Park Amphitheater from 1 to 9 p.m. today, sang Haiti’s national anthem for the crowd.

Health Commissioner Charlie Patterson said during the ceremony that the city wanted to appreciate the community and take steps toward building a happy, successful relationship.

“In the United States, we take a whole day off for our Independence Day; we shut everything down — the federal government, the state government, the city government — and we have parties and celebrations,” Patterson said. “This is just one day. We’re taking a couple minutes here in the morning out of our busy schedules to honor the independence of our Haitian friends, to honor the flag and what that means to them.”

Copeland said in his proclamation that Springfield recognizes the economic and cultural contributions the Haitian immigrant population has made to the city.

Patterson said Springfield is grateful for the growth in the city’s population for the first time in decades, with Haitian immigrants coming for jobs and opportunity.

Miguelito Jerome of the New Diaspora Live Haitian radio station in Springfield said the ceremony celebrated the uniting of communities and the preservation and promotion of Haitian culture in Springfield.

“I stand before you with a heart filled with gratitude and appreciation for each and every one of you who has contributed to the journey of progress,” Jerome said.

Springfield Police Division Chief Allison Elliot said at the ceremony she is honored to be part of the celebration of the city’s diversity. She said the police and other organizations are working together to bridge community gaps.

“Forward together, we can continue to make a difference,” Elliot told the crowd.

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