Friday, Jun. 15, 2012
Pride and honor: The red, white and blue gets a star-spangled salute
By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.com
The American flag was honored with readings and praise during the 18th annual Flag Day ceremony at City Hall on Wednesday.
The Los Banos Elks Lodge ceremony also included an oral history of the flag and a presentation of the colors. Although Flag Day is officially June 14, the lodge traditionally holds its ceremony on the second Wednesday of June.
Elks Lodge member Norm Donovan led the commemoration.
"Since the early days of the organization, to pledge allegiance to the flag has been a requirement of every member," Donovan said. "In 1907, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Grand Lodge designated by resolution June 14 as Flag Day and subsequently adopted mandatory observance of the occasion by every Lodge in 1911, that requirement continues to this day."
As Donovan gave an oral history of the flag, Boy Scouts and members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars presented different versions of the American symbol. It was not until 1818 that the 13 red and white stripes and stars representing each state were officially adopted.
Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler Luise Parish read a statement about the American flag's travels during wartime. She gave special attention to the events of Sept. 11 and the way the flag evoked patriotism throughout the country.
"9/11, the day terrorists attacked our homeland and created fear and uncertainty within us all ... the sight of firefighters raising our flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center, military personnel draping our flag on the side of the Pentagon ... no other symbol could have offered such comfort."
Lodge members also read poetry, including "Ragged Old Flag" by Johnny Cash.
Residents Gene and Christine Brandi performed "God Bless America" and the "Star Spangled Banner."
Mayor Mike Villalta made special mention of 16 veterans from Los Banos who died in war. He also had a message for the Boy Scouts, asking them to always honor the flag.
"This is your future, the red, white and blue. Don't ever forget it, 'cause those men gave their lives," he said.
Villalta issued a proclamation commending the Elks Lodge and recognizing Flag Day in Los Banos.
Councilman Tom Faria led the audience in singing "God Bless the USA."
Although not recognized as an official federal holiday, the date Flag Day is observed marks the 1777 adoption of the U.S. flag by the Second Continental Congress. Flag Day was first officially established with a proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. It was then designated by an act of Congress in 1949. Local veterans spent Flag Day posting American flags throughout town.