Clovis Elks Lodge hosts annual Flag Day ceremony

Veteran salutes the burning of the flag by members of Scout Troop 257 (Photo by Steven Sandage, Clovis Roundup)

June 17, 2024 – This past Friday, June 14, the Clovis Elks Lodge No. 2599 contributed to a longstanding tradition of honoring those who have served our country during Flag Day. This is a designated observation and retirement of our beloved American flag in a ceremonial flag retirement at the Centennial Plaza in Old Town.

The event began with a presentation of the colors by the USMC MWSS 473 Det. Alpha-NAS Lemoore color guard and the Scout Troop 257, who presented previous versions of the flag and the Prisoners of War / Missing in Action flag.

As one of the Scouts ascended the walkway of the Plaza holding the flag dedicated to Prisoners of War who have not been recovered, a silence swept over the crowd.

Flag Day is not only a commemoration of the American flag – it is a celebration of the freedom Americans are allowed because of the sacrifice made by service members. This sacrifice is something Keynote Speaker Greg Zubacz has certainly not taken for granted.

After the presentation of the various flags, the choir at Our Lady of Perpetual Help school sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”

Zubacz, a Ukranian Catholic Priest in Clovis and Associate Provost and Professor at Fresno Pacific University (FPU), was introduced following the school choir.

In his speech, he displayed his appreciation and gratitude for the privilege of being considered a citizen of the United States. He recalled details of first seeing the American flag during the first Moon Landing in 1969, becoming a Professor at FPU, and his and his family’s officially being confirmed as American citizens this spring.

Zubacz stated, “I want to say how proud I am to be a new American citizen and I hope all of you realize how blessed you are to be part of the greatest country in the world. Be proud of your country and be proud of your flag.”

During the event, the school choir from Our Lady of Perpetual Help also sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”

The flag retirement was presented by Boy Scout Troop 257, who displayed the flag for the attendees of the event, holding a steady grip while attendees spoke a final Pledge of Allegiance before the flag was burned ceremonially in a fire pit. While the flames over the pit grew higher, the troop surrounded the fire, saluting it until it was turned to ash.

The retirement, however, was not the end of the community gathering. After the event, attendees shared a lunch at the Lodge together, where Elks Lodge Member Cleveland Wardrick recalled upon the importance of Flag Day. Wardrick first joined the Elks Lodge in memory of his father, a 30-year Elk, who had recently passed away.

Wardrick commented on why the retirement of the flag is so important to the Lodge: “It is the utmost honor to what the flag represents to the American people. And instead of maintaining it, tattered and torn, retire it in a respectful way as it was by burning it.”