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Elks Lodge 411 to mark Flag Day today

After the 80th observance of D-Day, which was observed this past week, comes Flag Day, which is being marked this coming Friday by Morgantown Elks Lodge 411.

This will be the 75th observance of the holiday signed into law by President Truman in 1949, when most of the globe was still digging out from the rubble of World War II.

Friday’s celebration and flag retirement ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. at the lodge on Chestnut Ridge Road and is open to the public.

Numbers of old, tattered American flags will be ritualistically burned during the proceedings, which, according to military protocol, is the only respectful, proper way to retire the national symbol.

“Flag Day is a significant day to celebrate and honor the symbol of our nation’s freedom and unity,” said Vickie Trickett, the exalted ruler of the local lodge.

“This is an excellent opportunity for community members to come together, reflect on our shared values and show appreciation for the service of our veterans,” Trickett continued.

Nationally, the Elks Lodge has been venerating the flag on June 14 long before Truman signed that order.

Lodges across the U.S. have been doing that since 1908.

Meanwhile, those same lodges have contributed $14 billion to charitable causes in the country since the organization’s national founding in 1869, four years after the end of the Civil War.

For the Greatest Generation, perhaps the most-iconic image of the American flag was the one snapped by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal in the South Pacific during World War II.

Rosenthal, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, captured battle-weary Marines raising the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima during the war’s waning days in 1945.

Chapter 306 of the Vietnam Veterans of America will lead Friday’s ceremony at the local lodge.

Charles Harrington, who served in that war, reflected during the ceremony three years ago at Elks Lodge 411. He came home from the fighting in Southeast Asia in 1968.

“The American flag is everything,” the old soldier said.

“It’s everything to us.”

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