Patriotism and military service go hand in hand on Flag Day

While the sight of the American flag means many things to many people, it means something special to those who fought under the emblem. Wareham’s veterans and other residents gathered at the Wareham-New Bedford Elks Lodge #73 on Saturday, June 15, to celebrate Flag Day and everything the Stars and Stripes stand for.

Former Lt. Col. Matthew Stanton, who currently teaches at Wareham High School, spoke about the constant presence of the flag during his military service.

“I’ve traveled a little over my time,” said Stanton, describing 28 years of deployments from West Germany to Panama – from South Korea to Iraq. “The only constant was this flag.”

“We must continue to raise the flag proudly,” he said. “As we gaze at that beautiful flag of stars and stripes, remember those who fought to defend it.”

Among those watching the ceremony was Patrick Michael Aloisius Murphy, a veteran who served on a submarine repair ship during the Vietnam War.

Murphy said his first memory of the flag contained only 48 stars — he was 9 years old when Alaska and Hawaii got their stars.

As he grew older and joined the military, the flag was the same constant symbol for Murphy as it was for Stanton.

“That was obviously the case if you were employed,” Murphy said. “We remember that stuff – you fight for this country, no matter what you’ve done.”

The Wareham-New Bedford Elks Lodge #73 held the Flag Day ceremony, with members of the Wareham High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps presenting a series of American flags throughout history and the Wareham Fire Department flying an oversized flag from a ladder truck.

The Elks have a unique bond with the American flag because they are the “first and only fraternal body” to require every lodge to celebrate Flag Day, Elks member Charles Ansome Jr. said.

“The order is clearly American,” Ansome said. “It has linked its fate to the fate of our country and made this flag the symbol of self-dedication to God, to the country and to fellow man.”