Many local veterans, current military members, Gordon County Sheriff’s Office employees and other citizens gathered in front of the Sheriff’s Office and Justice Center headquarters to participate in the annual Flag Day ceremony hosted by the Calhoun Elks Lodge and Sheriff Mitch Ralston on Wednesday.

The commemoration started with a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by national recording artist Faye Bentley.

Chuck Ruth of the Elks Lodge followed with opening comments, informing the crowd on the history of the United States flag and reminding everyone that the flag represents the sacrifices made over many decades by United States soldiers. He also acknowledged that it is also the Army’s 242nd birthday.

“How many times has a soldier armed with just piece of cloth and flagpole led men into battle with impossible odds, while every fiber in their bodies is telling them that they are probably making the ultimate sacrifice?” Ruth asked the audience.

“How many times has this flag served as the only reminder of those that gave it their all so that we can assemble and speak about this symbol that unites us all?”

Ruth also introduced the event’s keynote speaker Terry Nesbitt, a retired Major General who served the country for 41 years.

Nesbitt spoke about how significant the Stars and Stripes are to him, and encouraged the crowd to display patriotism on a daily basis.

“While the flag gives us great hope and comfort in tough times and acts as a symbol of national accomplishments, we should celebrate the freedoms symbolized by Old Glory every day,” Nesbitt said. “While it is good that the nation has set aside a day such as this to honor the national banner, it is up to us to continue that legacy throughout the year.”

Nesbitt also charged the crowd to fight against desecration of the flag.

“Ladies and gentleman, it is up to us to protect the flag,” Nesbitt said.

Members of the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard then performed a Flag-Folding Ceremony, while Ruth described what each fold of the flag represents.

The event concluded with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 each year. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.