Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Wed, March 20

Flag still symbolizes freedom

Jerry J. Herrmann/The Daily Courier<br>
American Legion Post No. 6 members Mike Schafer, left, and Dan F. Tillman prepare to show people at the Elks Flag Day ceremony at the Bob Stump Veterans Affairs Medical Center Sunday the 13 folds involved in folding the U.S. flag.

Jerry J. Herrmann/The Daily Courier<br> American Legion Post No. 6 members Mike Schafer, left, and Dan F. Tillman prepare to show people at the Elks Flag Day ceremony at the Bob Stump Veterans Affairs Medical Center Sunday the 13 folds involved in folding the U.S. flag.

PRESCOTT - "The flag adopted in Philadelphia on this date (June 14, 1777) 232 years ago is our flag today. It has added 37 stars, been in 10 major wars and stands proudly on the moon. Yet, it symbolizes the same commitment to freedom, equality and independence as it did at our nation's birth," said Ame Callahan, who spoke for the Northern Arizona, Veterans Affairs Health Care Systems, at the Flag Day celebration at the Bob Stump VA Medical Center.

She said the flag is a national symbol that identifies us as a nation and a people, and has a personal meaning for every American.

Lee Frye, Arizona Elks Association vice president-west, said, "Flag Day means the protection of our country, and the sacrifice everyone made under the flag."

"This was a very impressive ceremony they (Prescott Elks Lodge 330 and Chino Valley Elks Lodge 2842) put on. I've seen many, but this was the best presentation," Frye said.

For Korean War veteran Thomas Garibay of Peach Springs, the ceremony "got me," especially when Callahan reminded those present that throughout the nation's history, more than a million men and women gave their lives defending the flag and American's freedom.

"The spirit, the service and the sacrifice of those veterans, past and present, are woven into every star and stripe," she said.

Callahan added, "We in the Department of Veterans Affairs know how much our flag means to the veterans we serve... Nowhere, is the flag's presence more poignantly felt than at our VA national cemeteries."

"There is no more solemn and meaningful ceremony than the presentation of the American flag to a deceased veteran's family. Those who have served honorably under our flag have the right to be buried under it as well," she said.

Callahan said, as a Thai immigrant and 24-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, the flag is important to her.

Waldo Bennier, past exalted ruler of the Elks, said the stars and stripes has, upon its folds, the story of America.

To prevent the nation from passing like Greece and Rome did, Americans must win its heritage again and again until the end of time, he said.

Bennier reminded those present "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance."

What Americans won at Lexington and Concord, they must win again and again here and abroad, he said.

"Who among us will ever forget the sight of firefighters raising our flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center or the military personnel draping our flag on the side of the Pentagon or the citizens of Somerset County, Penn., placing our flag near the site where brave Americans died fighting the hijackers of Flight 93?" Bennier asked.

He said terrorism is our country's hardest battle yet and as great a challenge as the flag has seen.

The resurgence of patriotism since Sept. 11, 2001, has rekindled Americans' respect for their flag, Bennier said.

Today, he said, people in the world see the U.S. flag as a symbol of imperialism, while others see it as a destiny of the people.

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