On June 8, 2019, the Pinal Mountain Elks Lodge #2809 honored America with their annual Flag Day ceremony. These services commemorating the birth of the American Flag have been performed for as long as Exalted Ruler Danny Sanchez and Chaplin Pete Gardea can remember. “We’ve always had a Flag Day ceremony,” said Gardea. “And I’ve been a member for 39 years.” Gardea said that performing this ritual is a point of pride for him and his fellow members. “It’s nice to have this reminder of why we salute the flag and to be able to reflect on its meaning.”
With the help of Boy Scout Troop #101, the Elks proceeded with the posting of colors. Eight scouts accompanied by a younger scout walked in a version of the American Flag detailing the flags evolution and the progression of the American government.
The first flag posted was the Pine Tree Flag which was adopted in 1775 and carried by the Continental forces in the Battle of Bunker Hill. The following flag was the Snake Flag, used to represent the Southern colonies from 1776 to 1777. In late 1775 the Continental Congress presented a single flag to represent the 13 colonies. This flag was designed with 13 alternate stripes of red and white, and an azure field in the upper corner bearing the red cross of St. George and the white cross of St. Andrew.
On June 14, 1777, in response to a demand for a banner that better represents the country, Congress provided: “That the Flag of the United States be 13 stripes of alternating red and white; and that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Betsy Ross was then commissioned to make this flag from the rough design provided.
In 1795 two additional stars and stripes were added to represent the admission to the Union of Vermont and Kentucky. Congress changed the flag again in 1818, when they adopted a resolution that the number of stripes should be 13 and that the blue field should carry one star for each of the 20 states in the union and that a new star should be added for each state thereafter admitted. 28 new stars were added before July 4, 1912, and this flag of 48 stars flew over the nation for 47 years until just before the Vietnam War. On July 4, 1959, a star was added for Alaska. A year later, Hawaii, our island state added a 50th star.
The final flag to be posted during the ceremony was the POW-MIA Flag to recognize the plight and demise of a special group of our Armed Services, those who were prisoners of war or remain missing in action.
Gardea mentioned at the end of the ceremony that his hope is for parents to take this information home to their children and teachers to their classrooms. “The importance of the American Flag and what it represents should be passed on to future generations,” said Gardea.