Throughout many trials and tribulations since its earliest days, the Stars and Stripes remains a proud emblem of the United States — which was evident Sunday afternoon on a hillside in Mount Airy.
“The American flag is the symbol of our great nation,” Secretary Mark Alderman of Mount Airy Elks Lodge 2061 said during the lodge’s annual Flag Day program.
More than 50 people, including uniformed members of local Boy Scout Troop 538, attended the event that is held each year as part of the Elks’ emphasis on patriotism and other American values.
“The purpose of this service is to honor our country’s flag, to celebrate the anniversary of its birth and to recall the achievements attained beneath its folds,” said Barry Payne, who recently was installed as the lodge’s exalted ruler.
Sunday’s program included remarks about the significance of the flag and its history, and was highlighted by a ceremony in which a brand-new American banner was raised at the Elks Lodge by the scouts.
Flag Day, officially observed on June 14, is a key part of the heritage of both the nation and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
A resolution passed by the fraternal and social organization’s Grand Lodge in 1907 designated that date for the occasion in recognition of when the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the nation’s official flag in 1777. The country at that time boasted only 13 states.
Congress and President Harry Truman designated the nationwide observance of Flag Day in 1949 as a time for everyone to fly it proudly.
Alderman told Sunday’s gathering that the U.S. flag is the third-oldest national standard in the world, pre-dating the Union Jack of Great Britain and the Tri-Color of France.
In addition to its identity for the nation as a whole, many people have died while carrying the banner in battle, as Payne reminded during the program while reading the poem “America’s Symbol.”
“I am the courage shown by the valiant troops…I am each state united as one nation under God,” its words about the flag include. Payne also recited the poem “Lest We Forget,” which has a similar message.
One of the purposes of the Elks’ annual Flag Day event is to reinvigorate in today’s citizens a sense of what the flag has meant throughout history and its importance going forward, Alderman said.
“May this service bring to each of us a sense of loyalty to our nation,” he urged. “The United States is a beacon of hope.”
The role of military personnel in protecting the flag’s principles was stressed Sunday when the three veterans attending the program were recognized. It also included the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the national anthem by Greg Jones, along with prayers stressing the reverence of the observance.
Jones, with his acoustic guitar, performed another patriotic anthem as well, “There’s A Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere.”
The flag that the Boy Scouts replaced with a new one was presented to Freddy Badgett, exalted ruler of the Mount Airy Elks Lodge for 2012-2013, in recognition of his service.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.