CLEARFIELD – Local Boy Scouts and members of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 540 of Clearfield gathered Wednesday night to honor the flag of our nation.
Members and officers of BPOE No. 540 and members of Boy Scouts of America Troop 2 of Clearfield participated in the annual Flag Day Ceremony.
According to information provided by members of the lodge, the Elks is the first and only fraternal body to require formal observance of Flag Day. Beginning in July of 1908, the Grand Lodge, located in Dallas, Texas, required the annual observance of Flag Day on June 14 of each year.
During the annual ceremony Wednesday, Exalted Ruler Thomas Evans led the ceremony along with Past Exalted Ruler Bill Lawhead. The ceremony included a history of the flag.
Following the founding of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia in 1607, the flag of England represented the people of America.
By 1775, the Pine Tree Flag, a white flag depicting a green pine tree, was adopted for all ships of the American colonies and it was the flag that was carried by the Continental armies during the Battle of Bunker Hill. From 1776 to 1777, the southern colonies used the Snake Flag, a yellow flag depicting a black, coiled snake.
By the end of 1775, the Continental Congress began to discuss adopting a single flag, which would represent all 13 colonies. The congress agreed on a flag with 13 alternating stripes of red and white, with a blue field in the upper corner containing the red cross of St. George and the white cross of St. Andrew. This flag was called “The Continental Colors” and “The Grand Union” flag.
On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress chose to adopt a flag that was more representative of the new country of America. This flag should consist of 12 stripes of alternating red, white and blue, and 13 white stars on a blue field. In May or June of 1776, a committee commissioned Betsy Ross of Philadelphia to make a flag based on the stars and stripes design.
This flag was first flown at Fort Stanwix, also known as Fort Schuyler, near Rome, NY on Aug. 3, 1777 and came under by British and Native American Forces three days later, during the Battle of Oriskany.
By 1795, two additional stars and stripes were added to the flag, representing Vermont and Kentucky. The “15 Stars and Stripes” flag was used during the War of 1812. Contrary to popular belief, it was this flag, and not the “Betsy Ross” flag that was flying over Fort McHenry Sept. 14, 1814. This flag was seen by Francis Scott Key, who was so inspired, he wrote the four-verse poem, which would later become our national anthem.
On July 4, 1818, the Continental Congress declared that the number of stripes of the flag should remain 13, and the blue field should carry one star for each of the 20 states in the union. A new star will be added for each additional state.
On July 4, 1959, a 49th star was added to the flag, representing the state of Alaska, the country’s first state, which was not connected to the country’s mainland. One year later, the 50th star, representing Hawaii, the country’s island state, was added.
During Wednesday’s Ceremony, the Elks also honored the black and white “POW-MIA” flag, to recognize the plight of those members of the Armed Services who were prisoners of war and those who still remain missing in action.
The ceremony concluded with a reception for those in attendance.