Elks Celebrate Flag Day History

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DCK_5861-2569458588-OOn Sunday, June 9th the Milford Elks Lodges held their annual Flag Day ceremony. Special guests in attendance this year included Senator Gary Simpson, Representative Harvey Kenton, Representative Dave Wilson, Boy Scout Troop 116, Boy Scout troop 186 and Boy Scout Troop 911, Sergeant Shane Young from the Milford Police Department as well as Veterans from the Delaware Veterans Home and the Milford Community.

With approximately 120 people in attendance, the program kicked off as Exalted Ruler of The Milford Elks Lodge, Earl Briel, introduced Elk officers, who gave their standard statements which highlight the importance of the Flag to the organization as a “emblematic of Charity, Justice for all, Brotherly Love and Fidelity.”

Ken Dabog, a Past Exalted Ruler of the Milford Elks, provided an extensive history of the flag and described nine flags that have been flown by the United States since its earliest beginnings. In 1775, the Pine Tree Flag was adopted for all colonial vessels, and was the banner carried by the Continental forces in the Battle of Bunker Hill. The Southern colonies from 1776 to 1777 used the banner commonly known as the Snake Flag.

“Heraldry is as old as the human race. The carrying of banners has been a custom among all peoples in all ages,” stated Mr. Dabog during the ceremony. “These banners usually contain some concept of the life or government of those who fashion them. The evolution of the American Flag marks the progression of the government of the American People.”

In the latter part of 1775 the Continental Congress appointed a committee to consider the question of a single Flag for the thirteen colonies. That committee recommended a design of thirteen alternate stripes of red and white, with an azure field in the upper corner bearing the red cross of St. George and the white cross of St. Andrew. John Paul Jones, the senior lieutenant of the flagship “Alfred,” hoisted this Flag to the masthead on December 3, 1775, and one month later it was raised over the headquarters of General Washington at Cambridge, Massachusetts, “In compliment,” as he wrote, “to the United Colonies.”

Senator Gary Simpson, Jan Seitz, Earl Briel, Represenative Harvey Kenton, and Represenative Dave Wilson.
Senator Gary Simpson, Jan Seitz, Earl Briel, Represenative Harvey Kenton, and Represenative Dave Wilson.

An early American flag known as “The Continental Colors” and “The Grand Union,” was never carried in the field by the Continental land forces, but was used by the Navy as its exclusive ensign, and was the first American Flag to receive a salute of honor, a salute of eleven guns from the Fort of Orange in the Dutch West Indies. In response to a general demand for a banner more representative of the country, Congress on June 14, 1777, provided “That the Flag of the United States be thirteen stripes of alternating red and white; and that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

It is generally believed that in June of 1776, a committee consisting of George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross commissioned Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia Quakeress, to make a Flag from a rough design they left with her. This starry banner was first flown at Fort Stanwix, called Fort Schuyler at that time, near the city of Rome, New York, on August 3, 1777, and was under fire three days later at the battle of Oriskany, August 6, 1777, during a British and Indian attack.

The original thirteen Stars and Stripes represented the original thirteen colonies. In 1795 two additional Stars and Stripes were added to represent admission to the union of Vermont and Kentucky. Under this banner of fifteen Stars and Stripes, the War of 1812 was fought. It was the sight of it flying over Fort McHenry, on September 14, 1814, that inspired Francis Scott key to write what was to become our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

On April 14, 1818, Congress adopted a resolution that on and after July 4, 1818, the number of stripes should be thirteen and that the blue field should carry one star for each of the twenty states in the union and that a new star should be added for each state thereafter admitted. Since 1818, there has been no change in the Flag design except that twenty-eight new stars were added before July 4, 1912. This Flag of forty-eight stars flew over this nation for forty-seven years until just before the Vietnam War. On July 4, 1959, a star was added for Alaska, the first non-connected state and a year later, Hawaii, added a fiftieth star; the present Flag is adorned with fifty stars and thirteen stripes.

After the history of the flag was given by Ken Dabog, Exalted Ruler Earl Briel described the history of the Elks Flag Day Celebration. The first Elks Flag Day celebration was held in 1908 at the Grand Lodge in Dallas, Texas and has since become a mandatory event for each subordinate lodge.

“Our Flag is once a history, a declaration and a prophecy,” stated Briel. “It represents the American nation as it was at its birth; it speaks for what it is today; and it holds the opportunity for the future to add other stars to the glorious constellation.”