LEWISTON – The Lewiston Lodge of Elks 371 will hold its annual Flag Day services at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at Veterans Park, rain or shine. The ceremony will feature guest speakers, color guards and a history of the American flag.

Flag Day honors the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the national flag by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.

Though America has traditionally celebrated the Fourth of July as its national birthday, it is believed that the idea of a special day to celebrate the flag’s birthday originated in 1885.

On June 14 of that year, a Wisconsin school teacher, BJ Cigrand, arranged for students in his school to hold a special observance. The observance was known as “Flag Birthday,” which celebrated the official adoption of the American flag.

For several years thereafter, newspapers and magazines across the country picked up on the idea and continued to promote it by publishing articles encouraging the establishment of a day to honor the nation’s flag.

Flag Day was officially established by a proclamation made by President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916. Though Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until Aug. 3, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

Since 1907, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has been holding Flag Day services at lodges across the United States. The order was the first fraternal organization to make the observance mandatory for its members.

The public is invited to attend the event, which is expected to last approximately an hour.

For more information on the event or other Elks programs, visit www.elks.org, www.maineelks.org or contact the Lewiston Elks Lodge at 784-4801.

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