Although many Americans no longer celebrate Flag Day, Elk Lodge No. 339 kept the tradition alive with a ceremony and entertainment June 14th.
The lodge’s Exalted Ruler Keith Olash presided over the ceremony which honored the history of the U. S. flag as well as the men and women of the armed forces who died defending their country.
“The purpose of the Flag Day Service is to honor our country’s Flag,” Olash said in an e-mail, “to celebrate the anniversary of its birth and to recall the achievements attained beneath its folds.”
At the beginning of the ceremony, held inside the lodge hall decorated with red, white and blue stars and banners, attendees rose to pledge allegiance to the flag. Olash then read a ceremonial dialogue that explained the history of the flag and what it means. Toward the end, attendees stood up again to re-pledge their loyalty.
“It’s to reconfirm with them their pledge to the country and to the flag, after reading that dialogue to inspire them,” Olash said.
About 160 people, many of them wearing patriotic T-shirts and hats, filled the lodge’s main hall. The Elks provided each attendee with a miniature flag and a picnic-like buffet with salads and hot dogs.
The West View VFW Post 2754 color guard presented the state flag, the U.S. flag and the P.O.W./M.I.A. flag after the ceremony. Ted Bergfelt sang, played guitar and performed magic tricks, and the Pittsburgh Banjo Club played patriotic songs like “You’re A Grand Old Flag.”
Frank Rossi, Elk member and founder of the Pittsburgh Banjo Club, said that attendees waved their flags along to the music.
Kelly Chiodi, mother of the Banjo Club’s two youngest members, said she likes the event because it is important for her that Niko, 9, and Enzo, 8, learn the meaning of the flag and patriotism.
“It’s nice to see that people still feel so strongly about the history of the country,” she said.
Both Niko and Enzo play banjo and came dressed in colonial-era costumes.
Rossi said that local celebrities normally attend the event, but none were able to this year.
“Now it’s almost a forgotten holiday, but the Elks try to keep it alive,” he said.