For 106 years the Elks Lodge has celebrated June 14 as Flag Day. The Grand Lodge of the Order of Elks designated the day in 1907 and adopted mandatory observance of the occasion by every lodge in 1911.
The El Dorado Elks Lodge hosted the Kansas Elks Association State Flag Day Ceremony Saturday afternoon on the Butler County Courthouse lawn.
The ceremony opened with the posting of the colors by the American Legion Riders from Post 81, then Ethani Edwards sang the National Anthem, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation.
“We truly appreciate the Elks sponsoring this program,” Mayor Mike Fagg said. “It’s a great way to pay respect to old glory.”
He recognized the Elks for all they do for the community.
Chuck Buechman, special deputy grand exalted ruler from Hoxie Lodge #2425, also thanked the El Dorado Lodge, the city, county and American Legion riders for their participation in the event.
“Hopefully you will learn a little more about the flag that flies over this country and our troops,” he said.
Larry Cure, Kansas Elks Association (KEA) president from Galena Lodge #677, then talked about the principles of the flag, which represent the principles of the Elks including charity, justice and brotherly love.
“To be an Elk is to be a better American,” Cure said.
Victor Symons, KEA 1st vice president from Liberal Lodge #1947, then gave a history of the flag.
“The evolution of the American flag marks the progress of the government,” Symons said.
He began the history lesson in 1775 when the pine tree flag was adopted. Then from 1776 to 1777 there was a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag showing a snake on it for the southern colonies.
In 1775 there also was a flag with stripes for united colonies. In 1776 Betsy Ross was commissioned to make the first flag with 13 stripes and 13 stars.
“It is said she suggested the stars should have five points instead of six,” Symons said.
On Feb. 14, 1778, the first salute was given to the flag.
Another change was made in 1795 when two more stripes and two more stars were added. The War of 1812 was fought under this flag.
Then in 1818, the number of stripes was changed back to 13 and one star was added for each of the 20 states. Stars continued to be added as states were adopted.
As Symons went through the history of the flags, Cub Scouts from Pack 222 in El Dorado displayed each of the flags.
“The stars and stripes were the worldwide hope under God you would be free to live and do His will,” said Jim Capper, KEA 2nd vice president from Overland Park Lodge #2395, in response to the history. “It symbolizes the divine right to life, liberty and peace.”
Page 2 of 2 - He said the immortal story of this nation is written in blood and sweat.
“The flag has to be repurchased by each generation,” Capper continued.
“The greatest sign of this flag lies in the hearts and minds of millions of people. It has served as a beacon to refugees and stands as a promise the underprivileged will not be forgotten. This flag is the emblem of unity.”
He said only love of one’s fellow man will bring peace.
“The emblem and token of that love is the stars and stripes,” he said.
The patriotic address was given by Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet, who read the poem “The Flag Goes By” by Henry Holcomb Bennett.
He also talked about the Elks, saying a couple of years ago Phil Wickwire had invited him to a Kids Night Out they were putting on.
Since then, he has realized the important contributions the Elks make to the community.
Edwards then sang “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless the USA” before the flag folding ceremony, from which the flag was presented to Fagg.
“In closing, a lot of us rededicate ourselves to the flag of these United States,” Cure said.
The ceremony closed with a gun salute by the American Legion Color Guard and the playing of Taps by Kevin Pickrell.