It is to be expected the organization dedicated to patriotic service should seek to promote a proper knowledge of and respect for the American flag and all that it represents. That is exactly what the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks #2389 does. Since June of 1908, Elks lodges throughout the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Panama Canal have celebrated Flag Day.
On June 13, the Elks in Yucaipa held the traditional Flag Day ceremony at the Elks Lodge. Flag Day is traditionally on the calendar for Monday, June 14. In 1930 an amendment was added that a different day could be selected by each Order to grant a dispensation for a different day to hold such services.
It was first suggested to hold a Flag Day service by the Grand Exalted Ruler in 1907 in Philadelphia. In 1908 in Dallas the ritual for the Flag Day ceremony was approved. In 1911, the Grand Lodge of the Order adopted mandatory observance of the occasion by every lodge and that requirement continues.
On Aug. 3, 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 203, designating June 14 as Flag Day, who was himself an Elk. The Elks were not only the first fraternal organization to celebrate Flag Day, but had made this ceremony mandatory years before the date on which the observance became a nation-wide practice by legal decree. The Elks are one of the premier patriotic and charitable organizations in the United States.
On Sunday, June 13, Exalted Ruler Ronda Krug welcomed over 90 guests, including State Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh; San Bernardino Third District Field Representative for Supervisor Dawn Rowe, Scott Ward; Yucaipa Mayor Greg Bogh; Calimesa Mayor Pro-Tem Linda Molina; Yucaipa City Fire Department; Yucaipa City Police Department; Cub Scout Pack 4; Brownie Troop 883; ladies and lads of the Elks, and local citizens, to the Flag Day ceremony.
Krug said, “Members and guests, the purpose of this service is to honor our country’s flag.”
“Charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity are the principles of our Order and they are exemplified in all our services, by them we teach love of country and our countrymen and loyalty to our American way of life. To be an Elk is to be an American citizen who lives for our country and is ready to die for it,” continued Krug.
Cub Scout Pack #4 carried and placed eight of the American flags in proper order as the history of the flags was read by First Gentleman and Auditor David Krug.
There have been 27 different versions of the flag featuring the stars and stripes. Each new flag represented the addition of one or more states as the United States grew westward to fulfill what it believed to be its manifest destiny of expansion in North America.
Krug said, “The carrying of banners has been the custom of all people of all ages. These banners include some concept of life or government of those who fashion them.”
Krug continued with the evolution of the American flag. from the Pine Tree Flag to the Southern Colonies Snake Flag.
In 1776, a committee commissioned Betsy Ross to fashion a flag with 13 stripes alternating red and white, and to the union was represented with five points on the white stars on blue background on the right lefthand corner representing a new constellation in a circular pattern and was carried in the Battle of Oriskany on Aug. 6, 1777. In 1795, two additional stars and stripes were added in recognition to the Union of Vermont and Kentucky. On Sept. 14, 1814, the sight of the flag flying over Ft. McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner.
Eventually by July 4, 1912, 48 stars for the 48 states were added to the American flag. On July 4, 1959, Alaska, and 1960 Hawaii stars were added to the American flag.
Semper Fi No. 1 retired the old flags. Everyone was invited for a reception following this touching and memorable ceremony.
“Since 1968, 53 years we have been having a ceremony like this. It is always the best ceremony we do. I love that it is open to the public and that everybody can come. It gets bigger every year and that is really nice,” concluded Krug.