The Pine Island Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is going back to its roots in marking Flag Day on Tuesday June 14th — and its members are hoping the public will join the commemoration of the national symbol.
“It’s a celebration of history of the American flag,” Jack Rivaldi, Past Exalted Ruler, said. One might think the U.S. flag has looked largely the same since America’s inception, but that’s not quite the case. Prior to the Revolution, the flag of England was also the flag of what became the United States, per history Rivaldi provided.
In 1606, the field of the English flag changed to blue and the cross of St. Andrew was placed on it, giving the flag the name “the Union of the King’s colores.” The field color changed from blue to red in 1607, and the two crosses on the field were placed in the corner. The Colonies then created their own official flag, called the Pine Tree flag, which was flown on all colonial vessels and carried in the Battle of Bunker Hill, according to Cox’s information.
“The American flag evolved out of English flags. When American first started, they were English, they fought battles under the English flag. There were a lot of different battle flags,” Rivaldi said. “One day in 1776, Congress said ‘We need our own flag.’ The common story is that they contracted with Betsy Ross. A lot of things happened before that and in between that.”
Tuesday’s presentation affords the public an opportunity to see replicas of nine of America’s flags, from the Pine Tree banner, to the first Stars and Stripes with its 13 stars, to the current flag. Each presentation is accompanied by a brief history of the flag being displayed and presented by members of the Pine Island Boy Scout Troop 20.
“The Elks does this every year. It’s mandated by the Grand Lodge to recognize Flag Day every year,” Rivaldi noted. “A lot of times, it’s just done in the Elks organization. We just felt it’s important to do it in a public forum again, because of the disrespect the flag’s been given recently.”
While efforts to create a day to honor the flag stretched over several years in different locations, it was the Elks who passed a resolution designating June 14 as Flag Day in 1907, and which in 1911, mandated all Lodges to observe it, according to the national organization’s information. President Woodrow Wilson recognized the Elks’ observance of Flag Day; however, June 14 was not made a national holiday until 1949 when President Harry Truman signed it into law.
“It’s a beautiful ceremony and not a lot of the public has seen it, because it hasn’t been done in public for several years,” Rivaldi said, referring to the full presentation of the nation’s flags, past and present. “Frankly, it’s something that every kid ought to see. Every person ought to bring their child to see one of these,” he said.
The Elks’ Flag Day ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Tuesday, at 5630 Pine Island Road all are welcome to attend.