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Hopes for unified America part of Huntington’s Flag Day ceremony

June 14 2020
Fred Pace | Herald Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — Today’s America seems to be divided more than ever before, according to those attending Huntington’s Flag Day ceremony on Sunday.

“I believe we are more separated in America today than we have been since the Civil War,” said U.S. Marine retired and Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams, a speaker at the event. “Unfortunately our America today, from the time that we were in school and taught, practiced and repeated almost daily the Pledge of Allegiance to the greatest flag in the world, somewhere in the process of our progress we have lost that dedication and that practice of making sure our youth understand that flag is more than a piece of cloth. It represents individuals. Persons serving under her are dedicated to the fact that we have a country like no other and we have privileges that other people have no concept of what they are.”

Williams’ comments came during the annual event organized by the B.P.O.E. Elks Lodge #313 in Huntington, in conjunction with Huntington Post 16 of the American Legion at the American Legion Post Home in the 1400 block of 6th Avenue.

“Somehow, but I am not one of those smart enough to figure it out, we must return to the very values that flag represents,” he said. “Those values that drew us together and made us a United States of America.”

Williams said he remains hopeful the country will become united again.

“I believe there will be an individual, unknown to us this day, that is eventually going to bring us back together with God’s wisdom and direction,” he said.

Dan Goheen, the current Exalted Ruler of the Huntington Elks Lodge, agreed with Williams.

“Flag Day is important every year, but this year it seems to be more important than ever before,” Goheen said. “I think some Americans have forgotten our flag’s significance. We should all be united and proud of our flag and what it represents.”

Stanley Custodio, of Ceredo, came to the event to honor his family members who served in the military.

“My dad and brothers all served, and I am very proud to be an American,” he said. “Despite everything going on in our country, nothing is ever going to change that for me, ever.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement Sunday calling for citizens to not look at the flag as simply a symbol, but as a call for unity.

“When I look at the flag, I see respect for the lives lost and for all those who have worked to help our country during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Trumka’s statement said. “I see thousands taking to the streets to protest racial injustice. I see working people fighting for an economy that works for all. I see our veterans who continue to serve our country daily, and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and lay draped in the red, white and blue. I see America’s workers having the ability to join together to better our lives and the lives of our families. To me, the flag is a constant reminder to be better and to strive to make this nation the best it can be for everyone.”

Flag Day in the United States is an unofficial holiday commemorating the adoption of the American flag 243 years ago by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.

The U.S. flag has gone through many iterations over the years, with Congress ordering changes in its design up until 1960, including the addition of stars whenever a new state joined the union.

Today’s flag has 13 horizontal stripes, representing the original 13 colonies and 50 stars representing the 50 states.