On June 14, 1777 the Continental Congress passed an Act to establish an official flag for the new nation. The resolution ordered that “the Flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Over One Hundred years later, a 19 year old, $40 a month school-teacher, stirred by a deep love of the American Flag, arranged for the students in a little country schoolhouse located near Fredonia, Wisconsin to conduct exercises that celebrated the “Flags Birthday.” Bernard J. Cigrand, who later became a professor of dentistry and a college dean, began a lifelong crusade on June 14, 1885, to honor the adoption of the Stars and Stripes by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.
Thirty-one years later in 1916, his devotion to the Flag was rewarded when June 14th was declared as National Flag Day by President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson, who had been prompted by the Elks to establish this day said, ‘the Flag has vindicated its right to be honored by all nations of the world and feared by none who do righteousness.” In 1949, long after Dr. Cigrand’s death, President Truman, a member of the Elks, signed an Act of Congress that proclaimed the Flag of the United States would be displayed on all government buildings on June 14th and asked that the American people join in the observance of the Flag’s anniversary.
Flag Day was recently summed up by President Clinton in 1996, who wrote…
“Today, America’s Flag graces classrooms, statehouses, courtrooms, and churches, serving as a daily reminder of this Nation’s past accomplishments and ongoing dedication to safeguarding individual rights. The brave members of our Armed Forces carry “Old Glory” with them as they fulfill their mission to defend the blessings of democracy and peace across the globe; our banner flies from public buildings as a sign of our national community; and its folds drape the tombs of our distinguished dead. The Flag is a badge of honor to all — a sign of our citizens’ common purpose.”
Patriotism has characterized the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America since the early days of the organization. Allegiance to our country’s flag is required of every member of our Order. In addition, the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks was the first and only Fraternal Organization in the United States to make the observance of Flag Day mandatory; something that it has been doing this since 1911.
Each June 14th, Elk Lodges all across Maine and the United States will be holding their annual Flag Day services to celebrate, and to remember our Nation’s Flag by holding Flag Day Services. These public services last approximately 45 Minutes, and provides an inspirational look at the history of our Flag.