Celebrating Flag Day in Frederick

Flag Day is an annual observance marking the anniversary of the adoption of the first resolution creating a standard design for the flag of the United States of America, which the Continental Congress adopted on June 14, 1777. Communities across the United States held public observances of Flag Day as early as the Civil War. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge each made proclamations celebrating Flag Day in 1916 and 1927, respectively. Pennsylvania became the first state to make Flag Day an official holiday in 1937, and the United States Congress passed legislation in 1949 to make Flag Day an annual national observance. 

Before state and national recognition of Flag Day, social and fraternal organizations throughout the United States marked the annual observance. In 1907, the Grand Lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks adopted a policy requiring its members to mark Flag Day with an annual ceremony. Initially, the Frederick Elks Lodge held observances in its headquarters on West Second Street. But, in 1924, the Elks expanded the event to a public ceremony with speakers, music, and a presentation of the history of the flag. The first of these enhanced Flag Day services occurred in the auditorium at the Braddock Heights amusement park.

By the early-1930s, the Frederick Elks moved their Flag Day service to Baker Park where hundreds gathered each June to celebrate the birthday of the American flag. The 1935 Flag Day service was the first event held in the newly-completed bandshell and amphitheater in Baker Park. On Sunday, June 16, 1935, Elks Lodge members formed a parade at their headquarters and marched to Baker Park where a crowd awaited in the new 1,000 seat amphitheater.

The News, June 6, 1935

This photograph shows members of the Frederick Elks Lodge on the stage with invited guests and musicians. Major General Milton Reckord delivered the keynote address; Reckord was a Maryland native who commanded the National Guard and authored the 1933 legislation that made the guard a component of the United States Army. The lodge displayed nine flags at the front of the stage, representing the official flags that have flown over North America beginning with English colonization in the early-seventeenth century. 

The traditional Flag Day ceremony continues to be observed each June by Frederick Elks. Frederick City replaced the original Baker Park bandshell seen in this photograph with the present structure in 1990. 

June 1, 2023 by Jody Brumage, Heritage Frederick Archivist