ELYRIA — Members of the Elyria Elks Lodge and American Legion are at work today turning Ely Square into a powerhouse of patriotism for tonight’s annual Flag Day celebration.
Ron Carr, color guard commander for American Legion Post 12, will give a historical presentation of America’s flags from the classic 15-star version to the 50-star version. Bagpipers will be on hand to play a rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and a disc jockey will be present to keep the patriotic music playing throughout the night.
“A lot of people have died to protect that flag,” said Ed Murphy, who has been an Elks Lodge chairman for 25 years and serves as trustee chairman. “It is inspiring to drive down Middle Avenue and see how much people respect that symbol.”
The Elks Lodge was pivotal in bringing Flag Day to the national stage, declaring in 1911 that all lodges will recognize June 14 as a day of observance. In 1949, President Harry Truman, who was an Elks member, declared Flag Day a national day of observance.
Although the Elks Lodge has celebrated the day since the 1800s, members have worked to bring the celebration out of the lodge and into the public realm. Elks Lodge member and volunteer Dennis Ryan said every lodge across the country sponsors a public Flag Day celebration.
“Deep down, we want to promote that sense of patriotism that seems to be on the decline,” Ryan said. “We want to reawaken the importance and respect of our flag.”
All summer long, Elyria’s patriotism is on display. Middle Avenue and Gulf Road are lined with American flags supplied by the city, veterans organizations, the American Legion and residents. For residents short on flags, local Cub Scouts will be at Ely Square tonight handing out miniature versions of Old Glory.
As color guard commander for the American Legion, there is a lot Carr is required to know about handling the flag. Color guards are often responsible for leading parades, hoisting flags and teaching people how to properly dispose of an old flag.
Carr will demonstrate his expert flag handling at the Flag Day ceremonies beginning at
7 p.m. at Ely Square in downtown Elyria.
Contact Ben Norris at 329-7119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
Middle Avenue in Elyria is adorned with U.S. flags Wednesday in anticipation of Flag Day, which is today.