Local law enforcement agents, dignitaries and citizens gathered Tuesday night at the Ridgway Elks Lodge No. 872 B.P.O.E. for a 45-minute Flag Day ceremony featuring several speakers, including Paul "Ted" Bullers, Mamie Mader and the Honorable Richard Masson, President Judge of Elk County.
"The purpose of the service is to honor our country's flag and to celebrate the anniversary of its birth," Bullers said. "It is quite appropriate that this service should be held by the Order of Elks, an organization that is distinctly American and intensely patriotic."
The history of the flag was discussed and members of the local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops displayed several flags through the ceremony.
"Our flag is a declaration representing the American nation as it was at its birth-- it speaks for what it is today, and it holds the opportunities for the future to allow other stars to the glorious constellation," Bullers said. "The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is the first and only fraternal body to require formal observation of Flag Day.
"The Order is distinctly American-- only an American citizen is eligible to join and it has no foreign affiliation. It is linked to destiny, the destiny of our country and makes this flag a symbol of self-dedication to God, country and fellow men."
Mamie Mader discussed where the flag has been throughout history, notably its recent inspiring moments nearly 10 years ago during 9/11, a series of terrorism attacks against America that took place on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Our armed forces carry our flag in the deserts of Iraq, the mountains of Afghanistan, and the jungles of the Philippines, and wherever terrorism resides," Mader said. "We're reminded of the sacrifices being made by the men and women of our armed forces around the world."
Masson took the stand Tuesday night and discussed Flag Day as an often-omitted holiday.
"I think it's a holiday that's oftentimes overlooked, as it falls in a stream of celebrations during summer months," Masson said. "We look at Memorial Day and many see that as the beginning of the summer season and the end of the school year, the beginning of festivities and opportunities to be outside. We look at the Fourth of July as being the high mark of the summer with all the celebrations that surround that holiday, but Flag Day sometimes is not given the recognition that it deserves.