CRISFIELD — The Crisfield 1044 Elks celebrated Flag Day one day early with a ceremony at the flagpole outside the Crisfield Fire Department.
Exalted Ruler Erik Emely said it’s a day to honor the nation’s flag, celebrate its birth "and to recall the achievements attained beneath its folds."
He said the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is an intensely patriotic organization, and the first "and only fraternal body to require formal observance of Flag Day."
He introduced guest speaker Jacob R. "Jake" Day, mayor of Salisbury who is also a major with the Maryland National Guard. He returned home in April after a year-long deployment with the U.S. Army serving in the Horn of Africa.
"I spent the last nine months in the remaining active combat zone of our current war," Mayor Day said. Then two weeks ago it was Memorial Day, and ceremonies were held to remember those whose lives were cut short in defense of liberty.
Now Flag Day, "is the day we celebrate the grand Stars and Stripes, and also the day that our United States Army" celebrates its 346th birthday, he said, later showing the flag patch he carried with him while on duty.
In his address Mayor Day circled back to lines from "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" to tie together the country’s proud symbols and its fighting forces.
In generations past the song, and the flag, "served a functional purpose in warfare," he said. The song of an army, or cadence, benefited those who could not see the entirety of the unit and kept everyone marching in step. The flag served as a signal, "of the direction of travel, maneuvers to be taken, the location of the commander and ultimately whether the unit, or nation, was still in the fight."
He did not intend to glorify war with this connection but "a lasting nation is built on its willing defense," he said, adding, "Symbols matter in trying times."
"As long our proud flag flies, a nation of freedoms, brotherly love, righteousness and equality for all shall outlast even the most hopeless of moments." "So fly Old Glory fly."
In closing Mr. Emely asked everyone to join him in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Also participating in the program was U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Nikki Arnett who raised the colors, and Mary Beth Bradshaw who sang "America."
Mr. Emely thanked CFD Chief Frankie Pruitt for allowing the program to be held at the firehouse, and for Lower Somerset County Ambulance and Rescue Squad Captain Matt Tomlins for having his members also in attendance.