Ashland Lodge No. 944, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, will perform its annual Flag Day observance and ceremony on the Ashland Plaza, Thursday, June 14, from noon to — p.m.

Under the direction of Exalted Ruler Bob Nichols and Past Exalted Ruler Jim Potter, the ceremony will include:



"It is our patriotic duty as Elks to continue this tradition of honoring the flag and the nation it stands for on Flag Day," Nichols said. "Living in freedom under the flag of our country, we salute that flag and all the country's previous flags, as a way of expressing our pride and gratitude."

With Americans engaged in combat overseas, he said, expressing patriotism is especially important. "We recognize and honor the Americans are serving overseas, including many Elks, and many of our members who are veterans, for their sacrifices. We think it's especially important to remember what they're fighting for, and have fought for."

Nichols added that defending America is not limited to armed service on foreign soil, as the war on terrorism has involved law enforcement and emergency services here at home. "The fire and police departments are always on duty protecting our lives, property and liberty, and we sometimes forget how important their dedication to their jobs is to us here at home."

City officials have been invited to participate, and the public is invited to attend and participate.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is the first and only fraternal body to require formal observance of Flag Day. In July 1908, the Grand Lodge of the Order provided for the nationwide observance of Flag Day on June 14 of each year, by making it mandatory upon each subordinate lodge of the Order.

Flag Day was not recognized, nationally nor officially, until August 1949, when then president Harry S. Truman, himself an active Elk, signed the papers to establish June 14 as a day of national recognition for the flag of the United States of America.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the USA currently has more than 2,100 Lodges, with more than 1.1 million active members. Oregon has 58 lodges with a membership of over 45,000. Ashland Lodge

944, was founded March 16, 1905. Current membership is about 800 men and women. A vital and productive presence in Ashland for a century, Elks Lodge

944 has provided fellowship and fraternity to its members, and contributed time, energy and resources to local charitable and community activities.