Cleveland's Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, Lodge 1944, maintained its Flag Day presence Friday evening with a gala ceremony on the front lawn of the downtown lodge.Elks Exalted Ruler …
Cleveland's Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, Lodge 1944, maintained its Flag Day presence Friday evening with a gala ceremony on the front lawn of the downtown lodge.
Elks Exalted Ruler Joe Currington explained the annual ceremony is a tradition for Elks International, in recognition of our nation's flag.
There were a bevy of speakers and invited guests at Friday's late-afternoon event, including Tennessee AmVets Commander Daniel Koob, state Rep. Mark Hall, Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks, Scouts of America Troop 10, Bradley Central High School's Junior ROTC, BCHS's Drama Central Company Performers, and Currington.
The keynote speaker was Rick Williams, Chef de Chamin de fer and National Commander of the 40 and 8.
Currington provided the history of the Elks' association with this national day to honor the U.S. Flag, while Koob gave a lengthy discussion of the history of the U.S. Flag.
Currington said the idea of the Elks Flag Day service was first suggested in 1907, with June 14 being designated in 1911 as recognition day.
Flag Day was first established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. An Act of Congress in 1929, signed by President Harry S. Truman, determined the National Flag would be recognized each year on June 14. It is not an official U.S. holiday.
Koob's part of the program was assisted by several Scouts from Troop 10, who paraded replicas of flags from the first creations.
These flags included the very first U.S. Flag, The Green Tree Flag; the second, "Don't Tread on Me" Snake Flag; the Continental Union Jack Flag; the first 13 stripes and 13 stars (in a blue field) flag; and the succession of other U.S. Flags, with the addition of stars for new states when they were admitted to the Union.
Following this stirring and colorful display, Williams provided the keynote address, admitting he changed his thoughts in mid-stream.
"Joe (Currington) and Daniel (Koob) have given you the history and other information about the U.S. Flag. I want to touch on another theme concerning our national symbol," Williams said. "I've changed what I wanted to say."
"Do you realize the U.S. government does not protect the U.S. Flag?" the speaker asked.
"That responsibility is relegated to each individual state," he pointed out.
Williams said there have been people who have burned the flag, and desecrated it in other ways. But, they were not penalized, and were let go by the U.S. Supreme Court, based on their Freedom of Speech.
"Our flag is greatly respected by many, but not respected by others," he said. "I thought it was protected by law, but I was wrong."
Williams said every U.S. citizens has the right to request lawmakers approve a Flag Protection Act (on the national level).
"We need such a law," Williams said, emphaszing he and thousands of other veterans have placed their lives in ultimate jeopardy for our flag. "Now, we need to step up once more, to protect the flag. We need to do this!"
Williams closed his talk by joining all in attendance in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. Flag.
Mayor Brooks, in his comments, recognized elected officials in attendance, and praised the Elks Lodge for conducting the ceremony.
"The U.S. Flag is the emblem of our nation's unity, and the symbol of our American way of life," he said.
Rep. Hall provided the benediction at the start of the program.
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