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Island Elks hold Flag Day celebration

June 21, 2017
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Pine Island Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks held its annual Flag Day ceremony last Wednesday. There were about 30 people in attendance.

"It's a celebration of history of the American flag," Jack Rivaldi, past Exalted Ruler, said. "One might think the U.S. flag has looked largely the same since America's inception, but that's not quite the case. Prior to the Revolution, the flag of England was also the flag of what became the United States."

Members of Pine Island Boy Scout Troop 20 presented each of the eight ceremonial flags beginning with the Pine Tree flag, which was carried at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. As the flags were described, the scouts placed them in the display stand.

Article Photos

The Pine Island Elks and Pine Island Boy Scout Troop #20 at the Flag Day ceremony.


"The Congress of 1775 appointed a committee to design a new flag," Rivaldi said. "This is the 'Don't Tread on Me' flag, also known as the 'snake' flag."

The third flag included the white cross of St. George.

"In 1777, Congress decided that a more suitable banner was required for the new country and determined that a flag of 13 alternating red and white stripes with a blue field in the corner containing 13 white stars would be established," Rivaldi said. "It is said that Betsy Ross suggested that the stars be five-point instead of six points. This is known as the Betsy Ross flag."

The next flag is a flag that not only added two stars but also two stripes. This is the flag that was flown over Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key wrote the "Star Spangled Banner" from a prison ship in the harbor while watching this flag.

"The flag design stayed the same from 1818 except for the addition of 28 new stars representing 28 new states that were added," Rivaldi said. "In 1907, the 46-star flag was created to include the state of Oklahoma. Four years later, the nations seventh flag, the 48-star flag was created. Finally in 1959, Alaska and Hawaii were added creating the 50-star flag we fly today.

"Our flag is at once a history, a declaration and a prophesy," Rivaldi continued. "It represents the American nation as it was at its birth. It speaks from what it is today and affords an opportunity for the future to add other stars to the glorious constellation. The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks is the first and only fraternal body to require formal observance of Flag Day. Please join me in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance."

"The Elks does this every year," Rivaldi said. "It's mandated by the Grand Lodge to recognize Flag Day. A lot of times, it's just done in the Elks organization but we felt it's important to do it in a public forum again, because of the disrespect the flag's been given recently."

While efforts to create a day to honor the flag stretched over several years in different locations, it was the Elks who passed a resolution designating June 14 as Flag Day in 1907, and which in 1911, mandated all lodges to observe it, according to the national organization's information. President Woodrow Wilson recognized the Elks' observance of Flag Day; however, June 14 was not made a national holiday until 1949 when President Harry Truman signed it into law.

"It's a beautiful ceremony and not a lot of the public has seen it, because it hasn't been done in public for several years," Rivaldi said, referring to the full presentation of the nation's flags, past and present. "Frankly, it's something that every kid ought to see. Every person ought to bring their child to see one of these."



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