Bristol on the Delaware- Keeping Its Eye on the Grand Old Flag
by Cate Murway
It is to be expected that an organization dedicated to patriotic service should seek to promote a proper knowledge of, and respect for, the American Flag, and all that it represents. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has done this in many ways. Perhaps the most effective of its prescribed activities is the Flag Day Service. Each Lodge is required to conduct this service annually on June l4th, the anniversary of the birth of the American Flag.
The Bristol Elks #970 Flag Day Ceremony held last Sunday in Lions Park has continued to be an annual observance on the second Sunday of June since 1908.
The ritual is an elaborate one and it was conducted as a public ceremonial beginning to "National Flag Week".
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. In August 1949, President Harry S. Truman, who was himself an Elk, signed Public Law 203 and National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.
“O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?”
US Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick; District Justice, Frank Perenteau; Bristol Borough Police Chief, Arnold Porter; the Venture Crew #220, Bristol American Legion Post #382, and all those who came out to honor our flag listened repectfully to the history of Old Glory. All down our streets and high upon the century old iconic Grundy Commons clocktower, the flags of red, white, and blue flap in the humid air.
“Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?”
The carrying of banners has been a custom among all people for ages and the evolution of the American flag marks the progression of the government of the American people.
Colonies and militias used many different flags. Some are famous, such as the "Rattlesnake Flag" used by the Continental Navy, with its venomous challenge, "Don't Tread on Me."
Another naval flag had a green pine tree on a white background, the "Liberty Tree" flag.
A new flag was needed.
“And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.”
In May or June 1776, General George Washington, Robert Morris and Colonel George Ross, three members of a secret committee from the Continental Congress, commissioned a Philadelphia Quakeress to sew the first flag, using the rudimentary design they presented to her that included a six-pointed star. Betsy, a standout with the scissors, demonstrated how to cut a five-pointed star in a single snip. Impressed, the committee entrusted Betsy with making our first flag.
The widowed Betsy Ross had embroidered ruffles for Washington’s shirt bosoms and cuffs and it was partly owing to his friendship for her that she was chosen to make the flag. The original thirteen Stars and Stripes represented the original thirteen colonies.
The ceremony continued. Boats roared down the Delaware. Freedom enjoyed!
“O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
The U.S. Flag consists of a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 white stars representing each state. This is called the Union. The Union is offset by 13 alternating red and white stripes representing the 13 original colonies. A POW/MIA flag was also posted to recognise the plight and demise of United States military personnel, those who were prisoners of war or still remain missing in action. The original design for this flag was created by William Graham Wilkin III.
It is believed that George Washington said the following about the symbolisim of the American flag:
“We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty.”
People stood up from their lawn chairs and gentlemen removed their hats with their right hand and held it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart as the flag was hoisted. It always gives me chills. It still does.
Upon its folds is written the story of America- the epic of the mightiest and noblest in all history. That story is written in blood and sweat, in heroic deeds and unremitting toil.
This heritage is repurchased by each succeeding generation.
“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just…”
The price of liberty is eternal vigilence.
The flag was formally honored by the Pledge of Allegiance, written in 1892 by Francis Julius Bellamy [1855 –1931].
In 1954, Congress officially added the words "under God."
Let’s only buy American flags made by Americans in the U SA.. The flag symbolizes the blood, sweat, and tears of American men and women who brought this country into existence, not our indebtedness to China and the foreboding death of the American manufacturing sector.
Americans spend over 5.3 million dollars on imported flags each year, most of them made in China.
It’s enough to make Betsy Ross roll over in her grave.
We are the land of the free BECAUSE of the brave.
Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org