Boy scouts assist with saluting the United States flag plus the POA flag at the Order of Elks on Wednesday evening. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Boy scouts assist with saluting the United States flag plus the POA flag at the Order of Elks on Wednesday evening. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – The Van Wert Order of Elks gathered on the eve of Flag Day on Wednesday evening to commemorate the history and meaning of the United States flag.

Members of the Order of Elks were assisted by Boy Scouts in the ceremony.

“The evolution of the American Flag marks the progression of the government of the American people,” commented Van Wert Mayor Jerry Mazur in opening comments. “From the founding of Jamestown in Virginia in 1607 until 1775, the Flag of England was the flag of the people of America.”

Mazur noted that in the latter part of 1775 the Continental Congress appointed a committee to consider the question of a single flag for the 13 colonies. That committee recommended a design of 13 alternate stripes of red and white with an azure field in the upper corner bearing the red cross of St. George and the white cross of St. Andrew.

Then, on June 14, 1777, Congress provided that “the Flag of the United States be 13 stripes alternating red and white, and that the union be 13 stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

In presenting a history of the evolution of the flag, David Beck, Post Commander for the Van Wert American Legion, noted that the original 13 stars and stripes represented the original 13 colonies. In 1795, Beck said, two additional stars and stripes were added to represent admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the Union.

“It was under this banner of 15 stars and stripes that the War of 1812 was fought,” said Beck. “It was the sight of this flying over Fort McHenry on Sept. 14, 1814, that inspired Francis Scott Key to write what was to become our national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’”

“The Congress on April 14, 1818, adopted the resolution that on and after July 4, 1818, the number of stripes should be 13 and that the blue field should carry one star for each of the 20 states in the union and that a new star should be added for each stated afterwards,” added Beck.

Mike Stanley concluded the ceremony with a speech honoring the place of the flag in world history. He observed the fact that the United States Flag is the world-wide hope of all who, under God, would be free and do His will.

“Upon its folds is written the story of America, the epic of the mightiest and noblest in all history,” said Stanley.

The meeting concluded with the presentation of a speech, “Why Our Veterans are American Heroes,” by Luke Stouffer, who will be in the sixth grade at Payne Elementary School this fall. Stouffer recently won the Order of Elks Ohio State Contest with the presentation of his speech.