Elks Lodge No. 250 celebrates Flag Day

MANISTEE — Friday evening’s inclement weather may have forced the Manistee Elks Lodge No. 250 to move its annual Flag Day ceremony inside the lodge, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of the celebration.

Elks Lodges across the nation have been marking Flag Day for many years and the tradition draws the community together to remember the importance of the flag and the role it plays in the United States.

Local Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler Charles Francis welcomed everyone to the ceremony and explained why Flag Day is important to the Elks.

“The purpose of this service is to honor our country’s flag and to celebrate the anniversary of its birth,” said Francis. “It is quite appropriate that an event like this should be held at the Elks, an organization that is intensely patriotic.”

Francis said patriotism hits home with Elks members.

“Charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity are the cardinal principals of our order and is exemplified in all our services,” said Francis. “By them we teach love of country and our countryman and loyalty to the American way of life. To be an Elks is to be an American citizen who lives for their county and is ready to die for it.”

Past Exalted ruler Craig Schindlbeck read a history of the flag and how it evolved over the years. While he read that history members of Boy Scout Troop No. 167 presented the different flags of America as they evolved from the very beginning to what exists today.

“The evolution of the American flag marks the progression of the government of the American people,” said Schindlbeck.

Elks member Jeri Dziabuda sang the national anthem and later “God Bless America,” which was joined by the many who attended the ceremony.

George Culbert, who served as chairman of the annual Elks Essay contest, also honored Manistee Middle School student Hollie Tabaczaka for her second place effort at the state level of the competition.

“This year we had 105 fifth through eighth grade student participants from Manistee Area Public Schools and Manistee Catholic Central,” said Culbert. “This is my sixth year chairing the contest, and I am proud to say that the past five consecutive years we have had seven state finalists honored by the Manistee Elks Lodge No. 250. Three of the four students were selected by the Northwest Region to be sent on to the state competition. That is very impressive considering our students are competing with students from all over the state, as well as the Detroit metro suburban area.”

Besides Tabaczka, essays from Olivia Thompson and Greyson Hoeflinger also advanced to the state level. Culbert said by finishing second, Tabaczaka just missed out on advancing to the national level. For finishing second at the state level, Tabaczka will receive a plaque and $50.

“I want to express my appreciation to Hollie’s sixth grade teacher Connie Josvai and to Manistee Catholic Central teachers Michelle McComb and Nick Fedder for their support of the Americanism Essay effort,” said Culbert.

Tabaczka read her winning essay to those in attendance and received a rousing ovation at its conclusion.

Elks past exalted John Kuenzli delivered the dedication message talking about the flag and what it means to Americans.

The Veteran Flag Folding Ritual team from the Manistee Veterans of Foreign Wars Walsh Post No. 4499 and American Legion Post No. 10 consisting of Don Vadeboncoeur, Ed Cote, Roger Turner and Keith Graham then took part in showing the proper way to fold a flag and explained what each of the folds means in the process. At the conclusion of the flag folding everyone in attendance recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

“The flag folding ceremony is founded on the same principal that our country was originally founded,” said Vadebondcoeur.

Elks member Ron Grew then read the popular poem “I am the Flag” before the ceremony closed out.

Also participating were the local chapters of the Disabled American War Veterans, the Catholic War Veterans and the Knights of Columbus.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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