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Gouverneur honors legacy of the Stars and Stripes at flag day event

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GOUVERNEUR — The sound of “America the Beautiful” carried across Gouverneur Village Park to begin the annual Flag Day celebration.

The members of the Gouverneur Elks Club and Boy Scout Troop 21 presented the history of the American flag, from the various designs of the nation’s infancy to the current stars and stripes.

Friday was Flag Day, but Gouverneur celebrated on Saturday.

Elks Club members around the nation have held educational Flag Day ceremonies since 1908. In Gouverneur, this ceremony has been combined with a parade for decades. The Elks Club works with the Gouverneur Chamber of Commerce to hold a full day of activities.

Flag Day is the chamber’s biggest event of the year, according to Executive Director Donna M. Lawrence.

“We’re Americans. Don’t you think we should honor our flag? I do,” she said.

Saturday brought a festival atmosphere to Gouverneur. The downtown park was filled with vendors, live music and a bounce house.

“I like bringing the kids down here to enjoy the day,” said Alison M. Tulp, of Gouverneur.

Nearby residents held yard sales to take advantage of the gathered crowds.

“It brings people to our community, which is what we’re all about,” Ms. Lawrence said.

The educational ceremony began at 12:30 p.m. Members of Boy Scout Troop 21 held flags from throughout America’s history, as Elks Club members explained their history and significance.

The green-and-white Pine Tree flag carried by colonial soldiers in 1775 bears no resemblence to today’s familiar red, white and blue banner.

Also in 1775, the first version of the modern flag was commissioned, but the stars were noticeably absent. The corner now occupied by the blue field was once filled by the Union Jack, marking the colonies’ turbulent connection to England.

“Every year, people tell us that they haven’t heard the story of all the flags,” said Jimmy S. Jackson, leader of the Gouverneur Elks Lodge.

At 2 p.m., the annual Flag Day parade began. The highlight was a giant American flag, 30 feet by 40 feet, stretched across the entire street.

Mr. Jackson said the annual events are an important way to preserve patriotism and a sense of the nation’s history.

“I think the younger generation is losing sight of the history of the flag,” he said.



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