Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest present flags during the Elks Flag Day Ceremony at La Villa Assisted Living, Thursday morning. Mark Wilson Photo
The Roswell Elks Lodge teamed up with Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest to perform the annual Flag Day ceremony at La Villa Assisted Living Center, Thursday, honoring America’s emblem of sovereignty and taking attendees through the historic progression of our nation’s flags.
Bob Bergmark, the Lodge’s district Americanism chairman, shared how the Elks played a critical role in the observance of Flag Day in the United States.
“The Elks are the first fraternal organization in the nation to decree that all the lodges in our organization would observe the Flag Day ceremony every year on the fourteenth of June,” Bergmark said. “This was decreed in 1907. In 1911 it was made a rule, an Elks statute, and then in 1949, when Harry Truman was president, he made it a national day of observance. So the Elks are very proud of the fact that we were very instrumental in getting the ball rolling on this.”
Bergmark said the importance of Flag Day cannot be understated, citing the positive effect that ceremonies have on younger generations who learn about the growth of our nation.
“It’s amazing. The first time we performed this ceremony at one of the local school’s, we had the program in their gymnasium, and when the 50-star flag came in, there was a spontaneous rising and cheering from all the kids,” he said. “It wasn’t planned, they just did it automatically. So I know the program had them stirred. And this is the aim we have: to get people into a patriotic frame of mind. And it works. It’s a very moving ceremony. The kids really love it, and they love to participate.”
Nine area Girl Scouts from various troops served as honor guards during the ceremony, continuing a longstanding partnership with the Elks Lodge on Flag Day.
“They do this each year, a different set of nine girls come in, and they’re here to guard the flag,” said Rebecca Sherwood, Girl Scouts membership team leader. “This is a great opportunity for the girls to participate in Flag Day, and to provide a service which is a big tradition in Girl Scouting.”
Sherwood said learning the history of our nation’s flags provides a great benefit to the girls. “I think it’s really exciting. Some of these girls have done this more than one year in a row, so they know different things about it and will want to hold a particular flag. So I think this is really meaningful; I wish more people would participate, and especially bring their children to see these kinds of things, and learn more about our history.
“Any time that we are teaching our children responsibility and honor for our country and its symbol of freedom, that is a big benefit to the girl, to their family, to the community. So to the girl specifically, they’re learning about honor, which is a big thing in Girl Scouts — to help our country. And this is just a little way that they can do that, and show respect to the flag.”