Commemorating Flag Day an annual Elks tradition
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent June 13, 2014 9:46PM
At Friday's Flag Day celebration held at the Porter County Courthouse in Valparaiso, Sarah Matlock, 9, carries a version of the Stars and Stripes, which has continued unchanged except for added stars since 1818. The Valparaiso Elks hosted the 36th annual ceremony. | James D. Wolf Jr./for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 15, 2014 6:06AM
VALPARAISO — The city’s Elks lodge on Friday did what every Elks lodge is required to do this weekend.
Valparaiso Lodge 500 held its 36th annual Flag Day celebration, the day before the holiday.
The annual ceremony must follow a detailed script — recognizing all the flags that the United States has flown in its history, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”
Elks lodges through the nation can “beef up” the Flag Day ceremony by adding to it, but they can’t omit the requirements, said Judy Rooney-Davis, the Esteemed Leading Knight for Lodge 500.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks is the only fraternal organization to require formal observance of Flag Day and has done so since July 1908, when the “Grand Lodge of this Order at Dallas, Texas, ... provided for the annual nationwide observance of Flag Day on the 14th of June in each year by making it mandatory upon each subordinate lodge,” Lodge 500’s Exalted Ruler, Bruce Wright, said during the ceremony.
The first two flags in Friday’s ceremony were the 1775 Pine Tree Flag, a green pine on white field that was used by Colonial vessels and the Continental Army at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the yellow Snake Flag with the “Don’t Tread On Me” motto used by Southern states from 1776 to 1777.
In 1775, a Continental Congress committee recommended 13 red-and-white stripes with the British red cross of St. George and white cross of St. Andrew where we now have the stars. It was flown on ships and was the first U.S. flag to receive a salute of honor, 11 guns at the Fort of Orange in the Dutch West Indies.
In June 1777, the flag officially received the field of stars and a starred banner was first flown at Fort Stanwix near Rome, N.Y., on Aug. 3, 1777.