BUCKHANNON — The Fourth of July is not the only patriotic holiday that takes place in the summer.
The stars and stripes that represent the United States were authorized by Congress on June 14, 1777, thus setting the date for Flag Day. One fraternal body that has mandated the observance of Flag Day since 1908 is the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks.
Local Elks Lodge 1736 recognized the holiday Wednesday with an annual ceremony honoring the history of the American flag and what it stands for. Scott Wilson, Exalted Ruler of the Buckhannon Elks Lodge, said the ceremony is meant to encourage patriotism and remembrance of our veterans.
“The Elks is the only organization that mandates the observance of Flag Day, and we do our part in encouraging patriotism and remembrance of our veterans,” Wilson said. “One of the mottoes of the Elks is so long as there are veterans, the Order of the Elks will never forget them.”
Members of the Upshur County Honor Guard, American Legion Post 7, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Daughters of the American Revolution attended the ceremony.
The event opened with everyone singing the “Star Spangled Banner” and a greeting from the exalted ruler. A prayer was then led by the appointed Chaplain, which was followed by a recalling of the history and showing of all the past flags. The assembly followed this by singing “God Bless America.” The Pledge of Allegiance marked the end of the ceremony.
After the ceremony had concluded, Commander of Veterans Foreign Wars Larry Brown presented a plaque to Jimmy Kittle for serving 70 years in the Upshur County Honor Guard.
Wilson said his favorite part of Flag Day is honoring the veterans who attend the ceremony.
“My favorite part is when the local veteran groups come, because they’ve done the actual fighting under the flag,” Wilson said. “And it’s fine to honor the country and the flag, but these guys have actually had to go over there and defend everything the flag stands for.”
Warrick Osburn, incoming commander of Post 7 of the American Legion, said the flag should be honored not just one day, but every day.
“Flag Day is a day of remembrance for the flag and to make people aware that everyday should be Flag Day,” Osburn said. “There is not enough respect shown for the flag, and that is why we have Flag Day.”
Carolyn Crozier, Regent of the Elizabeth Zane Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, said this year’s Flag Day is more important than ever.
“Flag Day is very important to the DAR, as is anything patriotic,” Crozier said. “Flag Day to us is a day that should be honored because our country today is at war and under attack, and it is more important today than ever to honor that flag.”