A symbol of freedom: Elks hold annual Flag Day ceremony

The Fraternal Order of the Elks Lodge No. 250 held its annual Flag Day service Thursday evening on the Manistee Riverwalk, behind the local lodge. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

The Fraternal Order of the Elks Lodge No. 250 held its annual Flag Day service Thursday evening on the Manistee Riverwalk, behind the local lodge. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — At its core the American Flag is a symbol of freedom, one for which many have fought and sacrificed so generations to come could continue to hold it dear.

To honor this symbol — its history and its future — the Fraternal Order of the Elks Lodge No. 250 held its annual Flag Day service Thursday evening on the Manistee Riverwalk, behind the local lodge.

“Each year, every Elks Lodge in the nation does a Flag Day ceremony,” said Jim Smith, the City of Manistee mayor and chairman of the Elks’ board. “The Elks pride themselves on being a uniquely American organization: very patriotic and very involved in community activities, with a special focus on veterans.

“This is really one of my favorite programs we do here at the Elks,” he said. “It’s one of the most thoughtful and respected services that we offer. … The flag is a symbol of our nation, of our freedom.”

Flag Day was established by the Second Continental Congress in 1777 as a way to commemorate the adoption of the American Flag. The Elks organization had a hand in the creation of Flag Day.

Thursday’s event was emceed by Amy Loftis, exalted ruler of the Elks Lodge No. 250.

“The purpose of this service is to honor our country’s flag, to celebrate the anniversary of its birth and to recall the achievements attained beneath its folds,” she told the crowd. “It is quite appropriate that such a service should be held by the Order of the Elks, an organization that is distinctively American, intensely patriotic and without counterpart. …

“Our flag is at once a history, a declaration and a prophecy,” she said. “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.”

The event began with the singing of the National Anthem, led by Jeri Dziauda.

The ceremony included a detailed history of the American Flag, delivered by past exalted ruler Craig Schindlbeck as example flags of its evolution were introduced by the Boy Scouts of America Troop No. 167.

“Heraldry is as old as the human race,” Schindlbeck said. “The carrying of banners has been a custom among all peoples in all ages. 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.”

The VFW Walsh Post No. 4499 also gave a demonstration of how to properly fold an American flag, with explanation of what each fold in the flag means.

Guest speakers included mayor Smith; Elks trustee Chris Lofits, who delivered a re-dedication message; and Elks chaplain Charles Francis, who recited the poem, “I Am The Flag.”

Officers of the local Elks Lodge were assisted by several area organizations in conducting the ceremony, including: The American Legion, the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, Catholic War Veterans/Knights of Columbus, United States Coast Guard Manistee, Cub Scouts of America, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America and Rolling Thunder Michigan Chapter No. 1.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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