FALLS TOWNSHIP >> The Fairless Hills Elks Lodge No. 2023 joined Bristol Lodge No. 970 on June 13 to celebrate Old Glory’s birthday with a patriotic salute to its meaning and its history.
“We are here today to celebrate the anniversary of our flag’s birth and to recall the achievements obtained beneath its folds,” said Fairless Hills Exalted Ruler Adam Buck in opening the ceremony at the lodge home on West Bridge Street. “It is quite appropriate that such a service be held by the Order of the Elks, an organization that is distinctively American, intensely patriotic and without counterpart.”
The observance, punctuated by patriotic songs and readings, opened with a prayer by Lydia Devlin, PDDGER of Lodge No. 2023.
“In this hour of patriotic observance of the birthday of the American flag, we ask you to bless our flag and the people of these United States,” prayed Devlin. “Through the years to come may this flag wave as a banner of liberty, freedom and enlightenment. And may this service bring to each of us a sense of loyalty to our country and enable us to be better Patriots.”
The program continued with the history of the flag, depicting the evolution of the banner from the Pine Tree Flag that flew over the Battle of Bunker Hill and on Colonial merchant ships dating back to 1686 to today’s 50-star Star Spangled Banner, which was accompanied by the POW/MIA flag representing prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.
Each flag was carried to the front of the room by Scouts, veterans and members of the Twin Pine Civil Air Patrol and given a salute as Bristol Lodge 970 Exalted Ruler Linda Bourget-Fenimore described each banner’s place in American history.
“Our flag is a history, a declaration and a prophecy that represents the American nation and its birth. It speaks for what it is today and it holds opportunity for the future to add other stars to the glorious constellation,” said Bourget-Fennimore, adding that the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is the only fraternal organization to require formal observance of Flag Day.
The officers of Bristol Lodge 970 joined the Fairless Hills Lodge this year for the joint Flag Day celebration and were invited to led the Response.
U.S. Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick delivered this year’s Flag Day address, speaking to the beauty and the deep meaning behind the Stars and Stripes.
“There are 195 countries on this planet with 195 flags, but there is one that stands out from all of them. Not only do we have the most aesthetically beautiful flag, which is magical just looking at it, for sure, but it’s what the flag represents,” he said.
“If you think of every struggle our nation has been involved in throughout history, whether it was the Revolutionary War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korea, the Global War on Terrorism, every single one of them the theme was the same. Our flag has changed over the years, but the theme was the same. It was freedom vs. oppression, freedom vs. authoritarianism, freedom vs. totalitarianism, communism - all the oppressing forces across the world - the American flag has stood for freedom. And it has succeeded each and every time.
“The year was 1907 when the Elks, by National resolution, said it would be the one organization to honor Flag Day. We honor our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day. We honor our veterans on Veterans Day. And on Flag Day we celebrate the flag and all that it means,” said Fitzpatrick. “We thank the Elks for spending this one day every year dedicated to honoring the symbol of pride and freedom across the globe.”
Following Fitzpatrick’s remarks, members of the Twin Pine Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol from the Trenton-Mercer Airport led a Flag-folding ceremony explaining the meaning of each of the 13 folds, representing life, eternal life, in honor and tribute of veterans, the US Armed Forces, womanhood, fatherhood, and others.
When the flag is folded the 13th time the stars are uppermost reminding everyone of the national motto, “In God we trust.” The folded flag resembles a tricorn hat, a reminder of the soldiers who served under George Washington and the sailors and Marines under Captain John Paul Jones 245 years ago.
Following the flag folding, Exhaulted Ruler Adam Buck announced the awarding of $1,000 each in national Elks foundation grants to the Morrisville Fire Company to help purchase hose line and the Morrisville Borough Police Department to purchase body cameras.
On hand to accept the donation from the Morrisville Fire Company were Jackson Hurlbert, Tom DeShields and Tom Sines. Accepting for the Police Department was clerk Cathy Breza.
PER Shane Logue and Buck presented the annual Lodge Awards, naming Kenny K its Elk of the Year; Morrisville Fire Chief Matt Wiedenhaefer its Citizen of the Year; and Exalted Ruler Adam Buck its Officer of the Year.
PER Lydia Devlin and District Chairman George Croydon presented this year’s Lodge scholarship awards.
The Theodore Ramsey Scholarship went to Tessa Smiley of Langhorne, a graduate of Conwell Egan Catholic High School who will continue her education at Georgetown University, and the Irv Dost Scholarship went to Ewing High School graduate Taylor Greeenier, the grandchild of John and Gail Gurba, who will attend Penn State to study forensic psychology.
The Elks also announced the Elks National Foundation Legacy Scholarship Award, which goes to Pennsbury graduate, Victor Sorace, an Eagle Scout who will be attending Cairn University. Sorace also performed the Star Spangled Banner at the beginning of the ceremony.
Devlin then joined Americanism chair Robyn Kronnagel and US Congressman Fitzpatrick in recognizing the winners of this year’s Americanism essay contests.
In division one (fifth and sixth grades) Sofia Recchia, a sixth grader at Holy Trinity, won first place; Patrick Haney, a fifth grader at Holy Trinity, won second place; and Annabelle Hunnicutt, a sixth grader at Holy Trinity, won third place.
In division two (seventh and eighth grades), Tate Martin, an eighth grader at Holy Trinity, won first place; Dominicio Cucarese, an eighth grader at Holy Trinity, won second place, and Abigail Nix, a seventh grader at Holy Trinity, won third place.
The ceremony concluded with a gun salute and Taps offered by members of the Guardians of Washington Crossing National Cemetery.