In past years, members of Slidell Elks Lodge 2321 commemorated Flag Day with a ceremony at their lodge off Thompson Road.
But this June 14, the Elks brought the ceremony to Heritage Park in Slidell for a mid-morning public gathering. Elks Exalted Ruler Herbert Hostler said the move was a success.
“All 2,500 lodges in the country put this ceremony on each year,” Hostler said. “It’s intended to be a public ceremony. It was good to bring this to the public. We had nice weather, participation from the military and public officials. This was good.”
The proceedings began with introductory remarks by Hostler, as well as a proclamation from Slidell Mayor Freddy Drennan speaking about Flag Day and urging all citizens to commemorate the holiday. Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith and St. Tammany Fire District 1 Chief Chris Kaufmann presented the colors. Claire Putnam sang the national anthem with those in the amphitheater and adjacent infield standing at attention.
That was followed by a history of the United States flag by Slidell Elks Lodge past Exalted Ruler Glenn Lemoine. He introduced nine different flags, each with a significant history in the country’s heritage. Bearing the flags were Pat Massarini, past Veterans Committee chairman Slidell Elks Lodge, Pine Tree Flag and 15 Star Flag; Air Force Staff Sgt. Shannon Schlosser, Snake Flag; Army 2nd Lt. Stephen Batuk, Red/White Cross Flag; Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Barnhill, 13 Star Flag; Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Myers, 20 Star Flag; Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Frazier, 48 Star Flag; retired U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class William Graff, POW Flag; and retired Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ricky Vice, 50 Star Flag.
A response was offered by James Crippin Jr., past Exalted Ruler of the Slidell Elks Lodge. Retired Army 1st Sgt. Louis F. Michon delivered a keynote speech about what it means to be a veteran and the meaning of the flag to men and women of the military.
“We are honoring freedom (today),” Michon said. “And freedom is not free.”
In 1907, the Elks Grand Lodge designated by resolution that June 14 be celebrated as Flag Day. All Elks lodges have observed the holiday since 1911, and the organization was instrumental in having President Woodrow Wilson proclaim June 14 as Flag Day several years later.