For the Flag


Cadets from MMA's 7th Company provide a backdrop during 911 ceremonies in Wareham

The Wareham-New Bedford Elks Lodge 73′s traditional though belated Flag Day ceremony literally closed at the twilight’s last gleaming Friday evening. COVID-19 delayed this year’s salute scheduled for June 14 but could not prevent its observance on the Lodge’s lawn at 2855 Cranberry Highway under an immense flag flown by the Wareham Fire Dept.’s ladder truck. Lodge Exalted Ruler Perry Gerlach said the Lodge was given special dispensation by state Elks’ officials to hold the belated ceremony.

Holding it on Sept. 11, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the nation, reinforced the flag’s importance as a symbol of the nation’s indomitable spirit. In her address to those gathered, her voice affected by emotion, Lodge Board Chairman and former Exalted Ruler Joan Serverson noted its presence consecrating the sites where the nation had been attacked –the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania where Flight 93 went down. Ray Rock of the Elks Inner Guard, said, “I think we should think of what happened 19 years ago when we had this beautiful flag of ours draped over buildings that our enemies destroyed, and they tried to destroy us. And they’re still trying to destroy us, but that will never, never happen.”

Mass Maritime cadets helped in the presentation, each bearing aloft a version of the flag in its various historic incarnations.Elks Trustee Jim Callan described the flag’s evolution as the country evolved, from the use of the pine tree in 1775 as the nascent nation’s heraldic symbol flying over all colonial vessels and leading the troops in the Battle of Bunker Hill to today’s United States flag of 50 stars and 13 stripes.  "There was no greater feeling than to see our veterans coming in, some with crutches and rollers...children and older people's faces lighting up when they saw the cadets there." Callan said. "That made this Flag Day, and it's just what we need on 911 during COVID because there's nothing like it...that's America and that's what Mass Maritime is."

Trustee and former Exalted Ruler Charles B. Anson Jr. said, “As this emblem is first in our hearts as loyal Americans so it is close to all of us as loyal Elks.” The Elks were the first and only fraternal body to require formal observance of Flag Day, a tradition dating back to 1908.

Those sentiments were echoed by 7 CO MMA cadet 2/C Richard Tenore. A former cadet orientation award winner, Tenore's family is steeped in military service, and so his commitment to the flag runs deep. "We do all sorts of events, sports, parades, and we've helped out the Elks in prior years for Flag Day. It was tough last spring when we all had to go home, because we're a part of a wider community and so the outreach we do is really important to all of us. The fact that we were able to be here for this day on 911 made it extra special this year."