flagdayPhoto courtesy of Allegheny Elks Lodge No. 339

By Abbey Reighard

The Allegheny Elks Lodge No. 339 will host its annual Flag Day celebration on June 14 at 400 Cedar Ave.

The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. and will be followed by food and entertainment.

Keith Olash, Allegheny Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler, said the ceremony will include readings by members of the Elks Lodge from an official book from the Grand Lodge of the Order of the Elks. Olash added that those in attendance are welcome to read during the ceremony as well, and everyone in attendance will receive a small American flag to take home.

After the ceremony, refreshments will be provided by the Elks Lodge and the Pittsburgh Banjo Club will play at approximately 3 p.m. Olash said the refreshments will include “picnic-type” foods such as baked beans and other homemade foods.

Olash said he is not yet sure how many people will be attending the event this year, but said the number of people attending the event has gone up significantly in the past few years. Over 100 people attended last year’s event.

Olash said he believes attendance has gone up since other groups – such as boy scouts, veterans and the Banjo Club – have attended and become involved with the celebration.

According to Olash, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks was the first organization to honor the American flag with a Flag Day Celebration.

In 1907 the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks resolved that June 14 would mark the annual celebration of our nation’s flag.

Four years later, in 1911, The Grand Lodge of the Order decreed that every Elks Lodge would observe Flag Day. Flag Day commemorations are still a requirement for every Elks Lodge.

Olash said it’s important to commemorate Flag Day with ceremonies and celebrations to honor America and veterans.

“The flag is a representation of the freedom we have and a lot of people have lost their lives defending that freedom,” Olash said. “[Flag Day Celebrations] are a way to say ‘thank you’ and show how much you love your country.”