Saturday, June 12, 2021

The American Flag Ceremony

Here's an interesting tidbit of history.  Apparently there are no other organizations in the U.S. that celebrate flag day with an actual ceremony except the Elks.  I had no idea.  Every year on June 14th the flag is honored and its history spoken.  

Did you know the First American Flag had a symbol of a rattlesnake on it?  In 1751, Benjamin Franklin published an article about the British sending their convicts to America.  The article suggested the colonists return the favor sending rattlesnakes back to Britain.  Each segment was marked with the initial of a colony, with the snake cut in pieces, to remind them of the dangers of disunity.

In 1776, the Continental colors became the first National Flag.  It was known as the Grand Union flag.

There were lots of variations sewed here and there, as designed by the Navy, but no National standard.

Of course there was the Betsy Ross flag that Betsy Ross never sewed at all.  Seems Mary Pickersgill stitched it up instead.   

Eventually they ended up with our 50 star American Flag which we honored last night.  Our Elks Honor Guard carried the flags around the room to a pedestal in front, while its story of origin was told.  In case you were not aware, our Honor Guard performs ceremonies at the National Cemetery in the Central Valley for any Veteran who passes away and is buried there.  

It was a much more moving ceremony than I've witnessed before, since so many of our Honor Guard Veterans are in their late 80's.

Yes, that's 100 year old Frank on the front left.  He attends every ceremony and plays the bugle.  These guys can tell you stories that will chill you to the bone about flights they flew over Vietnam, about Pearl Harbor and even the Bataan March.  It's fitting we honor them as well as our flag.

Afterward, we sat them all down in the dining room and the Elks Lodge bought them dinner.  It was prime rib all around!!  Sadly, I only got pictures of my salad, and not the five pound piece of meatloaf I ordered. I'm not kidding, it took up the entire plate.  

I might have gotten pictures of the rest of dinner, except as a new Trustee, I found out I had to spend more time talking than eating, which totally distracted me.  With only two waiters serving over 150 people at Friday night dinner, it did take some time, but the wait was worth it.  If you've never had dinner at our lodge on Friday night, you might check it out.  The prime rib is amazing (the rib eye even better), as was my lowly but amazing meatloaf.

Finally ... a night (tonight) when I'll get to play with my new photography toys.  Don't expect much, there's not anything great in my back yard to photograph since the skunks were moved out.


  1. One of my uncles was at Pearl Harbor, attended the 60th anniversary and gave his oral history to the National Park Service. (transcript: I read one transcript of CM2c Walter Staff, the last guy pulled from the overturned Battleship Oklahoma...amazing story. NPS website:

    1. The stories are not for the faint of heart. Thank you for posting these.

  2. Interesting information. Thank you.

  3. With all the wealth of stories good deeds courageous acts of valor and information that all those gentlemen hold it’s too bad it’s going to be gone when their past and not preserved there DD 215. Only tells a very small portion of their life And in the end their flag only gets draped over their coffin as a tribute

    1. Many of them have told their stories, although Frank says it was much worse than you can imagine. He said he killed so many bad men ... he didn't like it, but they were BAD men.