HICKORY — Flag Day, a day proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and later established as National Flag Day in 1949 by an Act of Congress, is a day dedicated to the adoption of the flag of the United States by resolution of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.
The resolution stated, “Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue filed, representing a new constellation.” As each new territory and or colony became a state, a star was to be added to the union. North Carolina was among the original 13 states of the Union.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks with its headquarters in Chicago, is the first and only fraternal body to require formal observance of Flag Day, June 14, at each of its subordinate lodges around the country. This mandated observance was established in 1908 at the Elks Grand Lodge annual national assembly held that year in Dallas, Texas.
True to the mandate, the Hickory Lodge conducted the patriotic observance on the Lodge’s front lawn with a program of music, history, and the traditional flag raising on Sunday, June 14. Adhering to the COVID-19 guidance, the small gathering of 25 may have lacked in numbers but not in the enthusiasm for the occasion.
Music performed by Hickory’s own Nathan Hefner spirited the gathering with his renditions of the “The Star Spangled Banner,” “It’s a Grand Old Flag”, and “God Bless America.” Cadets from the Civil Air Patrol Hickory Composite Squadron 124 served as the ceremony flag detail raising Old Glory to the heights of the Lodge flagpole known as The Patriots Pole.
During the program, the Lodge honored Lt. Col. Laurence Stroud Carter Sr., United States Army (retired) as the 2020 Hickory Elks Patriot of the Year.
Carter served in the United States Army for 25 years in a variety of engineering assignments before his military retirement in 1971. As one of the first 100 men of the Army’s elite Green Berets, Carter served in assignments worldwide. He was involved in a number of classified operations that led to the protection of various assets and interests vital to the security of the United States and its allies. Following his retirement from the military and after acquiring a master’s degree in international development from North Carolina State College, Carter was employed by the State of North Carolina serving in various roles to include the design of Interstate 95 through Fayetteville. Carter finished his 20-year civilian career as the director of solid waste management for Cumberland County.
Gary Gantt, Lodge president, along with Maj. Charlie Self, U.S. Air Force (retired) and his Americanism Committee hosted this year’s ceremony and follow-on reception honoring Carter.
As in years past, this ceremony has been open to the public. It is an event that is both educational and patriotic as well as a prelude to America’s next patriotic holiday, Independence Day. Lodge officers are hopeful that next year’s Flag Day ceremony will see a much larger civic gathering in view of the measures being taken today to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic.
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