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June 14, 2014

Cullman Elks Lodge commemorates Flag Day

DODGE CITY — For those who fought under the Stars and Stripes, the American flag surely holds special significance. On Thursday, eight military combat veterans were recognized for their service, and told of their combat experiences at a Flag Day Ceremony at the Elks Lodge.

Retired Air Force colonel Ken Brown now serves at the VFW post in Cullman. He gave some historical background of the holiday.

“Flag Day, of course, was proclaimed by Woodrow Wilson during World War I in 1916,” Brown said. “Then in 1949, Congress passed an act declaring June 14 would be recognized as Flag Day.”

June 14 is the anniversary of American flag being commissioned by Congress in 1777.

The Elks Club has celebrated the holiday since the first days of the organization. In 1907, nearly a decade before Wilson’s proclamation, the BPOE Grand Lodge designated June 14 as Flag Day.

“The Elks have, for a long, long time, led the commemoration of Flag Day across the United States,” Brown said. “Every Elks Lodge in just about every county across the country does a ritual during the week of Flag Day for their members and for the public.”

Cullman’s local Elks Lodge has been meeting for 77 years. At the event Thursday, each of the veterans participating in the program told about their military experiences, as well as part of the history of American flag.

In addition, Amy Knight of Garden City sang 4 patriotic songs, and Brown, the main speaker, talked about his relatives who fought in American Revolution and past wars, and the flags that they fought under.

Cullman Elks Lodge spokesperson Gwen Parker said that “the Elks across the nation are a patriotic organization.”

The Flag Day ceremony, Parker said, “is to honor our country and to honor our flag.”

Parker stressed the need for community support of the event. “We would love to have a larger crowd attend,” she said.

“It’s always hard to get a lot of people to come...the majority of the people there are the veterans and their families. It’s not attended in the capacity that it should be to respect and honor our veterans and our country.”

With that challenge in mind, Parker spoke of the necessity of youth support for the program in order to secure its future. “We always encourage young people to attend,” Parker said, “because they learn a lot about the history of the United States and the flag, and how they began.”

As Flag Day nears its centennial day from President Wilson’s proclamation, the Elks Lodge and veterans plan to continue to carry on the standard.

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