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Guest Comment: Pine Island Elks Flag Day ceremony

June 5, 2019
Special to The Eagle , Pine Island Eagle

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks are uniquely American and intensely patriotic. The annual Flag Day program includes an interesting history of the flag, a display of historical flags and inspirational passages about the meaning of the flag. Particular attention is paid to the meaning of the flag to veterans of our armed forces. All Americans will feel a renewed spirit of patriotism with this program.

There was no uniform flag design for the United States at the forming of our nation. The first official declaration of the design of the American flag was made by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The committee resolved, "That the Flag of the United States be 13 stripes of alternating red and white; and that the union be 13 stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation."

The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a 19-year-old schoolteacher, arranged for his pupils in Waubeka, Wisconsin, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes) as "Flag Birthday."

Patriotism has characterized the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America since the early days of the organization. Allegiance to the flag of our country is a requirement of every member. In 1907, the Grand Lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks designated, by resolution, June 14 as Flag Day. The Grand Lodge of the Order adopted mandatory observance of the occasion by every Lodge in 1911, and that requirement continues.

The Elks prompted President Woodrow Wilson to recognize the Order's observance of Flag Day for its patriotic expression. and he did so through proclamation of June 14 as Flag Day in 1916. It was not until Aug. 3, 1949, that President Harry Truman, himself a member of the Elks, signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day. It was through his Elks Lodge in Independence, Missouri, that President Truman got the idea for a national observance of Flag Day.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks seeks to enhance love of our great nation through various programs, including the Flag Day service. We believe the responsibility of every true American is to personally understand and maintain the American way of life; to honor it by his own exemplary conduct; and to pass it intact to succeeding generations. We provide education to show proper respect for our national symbol. But we have a choice. As President Wilson said in 1916, "This flag, which we honor and under which we serve, is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and shape of this nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation. The choices are ours."

The Greater Pine Island Elks Lodge # 2781 will observe Flag Day on Friday, June 14, with a program held at the Lodge on Pine Island Road in Bokeelia at 11 a.m.

Hot dogs will be served following the program, and the public is invited to attend.

Source: Greater Pine Island Elks Lodge # 2781



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