CORNING | Many might overlook Flag Day, coming as it does between Memorial Day and Independence Day.
For the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the United States flag has close connections to one of their earliest leaders, Grand Exalted Ruler Henry Sanderson, who led the Elks in 1884. His mother, Margaret Young, cut the stars for the 15-star flag that Francis Scott Key saw flying over Fort McHenry as he wrote the words that became the American national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
That’s why Friday, the Corning Elks Lodge 1071, with the assistance of the Corning Twin Tiers Cadet Squadron and the Crystal City VFW Post 524 Ritual Team, held a ceremony to honor the history and traditions of the flag in Centerway Square.
Esteemed Lecturing Knight of the Corning Elks Debbie Shannon said order’s historical connection to the flag has continued into the present.
“From then on, it’s been our order to honor the flag,” Shannon said. “It’s part of our ritual.”
Mayor Bill Boland said Flag Day is important to recognize.
“Any day to celebrate our flag and the central part that it plays in identifying us as Americans is a good day,” Boland said.
Flag Day is also a day when we’re often reminded of the proper handling and respect for the flag.
Past Exalted Ruler of the Corning Elks and former city councilman Dan Kane, who called himself the “stage manager” for Friday’s ceremony, said people, out of ignorance, often don’t display the stars and stripes correctly.
“The flag is either supposed to be at full staff, or if ordered by the president or the governor, it comes to half-staff,” Kane said. “If people don’t use care on where they hang the flag,” it might not be at the right position.
He also said people should remember that flags, whether at homes, businesses or government buildings, should be retired when they no longer look their best.
“If it’s frayed, faded or ripped, it should be retired,” Kane said.
But importantly, “you don’t throw it in the trash,” he added.
While the proper method for retiring a flag is in fire, there’s a proper way to do so, and it’s best left to those who know it.
Kane said veterans organizations including the VFW and American Legion accept flags to be properly retired (hopefully brought in the tri-fold shape that’s the proper way to fold the flag).
“There’s also a myth out there that once the flag touches the ground you have to destroy it,” he said. “No. Just don’t let the flag touch the ground.”