By Johnny Jackson
The story behind one well-known Southern Crescent landmark dates back nearly 20 years.
The giant American Flag, which seems to rise out of the traffic-jammed asphalt along Interstate 75 in Henry County, is the property of Peachtree Peddlers Flea Market in McDonough.
At 30 feet tall and 60 feet long, the flag measures as tall as a three-story building and is longer than a school bus. It also towers 150 feet over motorists traveling through the region, as it was intended to do, according to Peggy Alexander, part-owner of Peachtree Peddlers Flea Market.
Alexander owns the flea market with business partners, Stephen England and his son, Brandon England. She said they collectively decided to fly the American Flag at the property over-looking the Interstate when they opened for business 17 years ago.
"We started off with a smaller flag," Alexander said. "And it got so many wonderful comments about it, we decided to make it larger [14 years ago]."
She said the flag's significance to the flea market remains what it was then: "It represents the beauty of what we do here for folks," she explained. "It represents the American dream. People [venders and antiques dealers] are able to come here and start and grow their own business in a safe-and-friendly environment. And they are able to expose their business to thousands of people every week."
Alexander noted that the flea market has grown over the years to include more than 300 independent venders and antiques dealers, 200 of whom are considered permanent leaseholders. Many of the flea market's patrons visit from around the region, and have come to recognize and appreciate its giant American Flag.
"They thank us," she said. "Soldiers thank us, and even Henry County [government] has thanked us."
Henry County District V Commissioner Johnny Basler said he believes the flag offers a patriotic reminder to motorists, American or otherwise, traveling along Interstate 75.
"What a great sight," he said. "When I look at that flag, I know that it is the most recognized symbol of freedom throughout the whole world. I think, a lot of times, that the American people, we get caught up in our day-to-day things, and we forget and take it for granted that so many men and women have laid down their lives for it."
Alexander said the flag is replaced every three to six months, and it costs between $900 and $1,200 each time it is replaced. She added that replacements for the flag have never been funded with public or donated money.
"We do it on our own," she said, "but we're so proud of it. I would hope that when folks see that flag, that it would fire up their beliefs in our country, and they think of all the soldiers who have lost their lives for our country, and what a great country we live in."
On the net:
Peachtree Peddlers Flea Market: www.peachtreepeddlers.com