Elks promote patriotism

The Cahaba Valley Elks taught third graders at Helena Intermediate School about the history of the American flag on Sept. 12. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

The Cahaba Valley Elks taught third graders at Helena Intermediate School about the history of the American flag on Sept. 12. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HELENA—As part of their mission to instill and spread patriotism, the Pelham-based Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge 1738 annually presents an educational program about the history of the American Flag and veterans to third graders across Shelby County. On Sept. 12, the Elks visited Helena Intermediate School.

“I want to bring a meaningful thing to them so they can understand more… give them a whole history,” Elk member and Shelby County Schools bus driver Ronald Kenny said. “They really seem interested… (Third grade) is the right time to get them started.”

The program covered the history of the American flag and the many changes it has gone through over time. Beginning with the Pine Tree flag used during colonial times, the Elks presented and explained the history behind each flag, up to the 50 star flag we have today.

Kenny spoke to the children about the importance of remembering and honoring veterans, noting “freedom is something that is passed down from generation to generation” through the sacrifices of veterans.

The Elks also introduced the children to important American concepts, such as freedom and liberty, through a cartoon video explaining the meaning behind the Pledge of Allegiance.

“It’s a nice program,” Kenny said. “We have a good group that loves to do this.”

At the conclusion of the program, the Elks handed each third grade student a dictionary.

“It’s an educational boost, probably the first book they’ve ever owned themselves. It’s a good start,” Kenny said of the dictionaries. “We hope they wear it out by the time they get to college.”

Elk Lodges across the country hand out dictionaries to third graders, the Cahaba Valley Elks will reach 11 schools and hand out around 3,000 dictionaries this year, Elk member Tom Davidson said.

“Today we give out about a million and a half dictionaries to third graders across the country,” Davison said.

Although the flag presentation to third grade students is an Elk tradition, Kenny said the Cahaba Valley Elks will bring their presentation to any group interested.

“We will do our program to anyone that wants it, civic clubs, country clubs… any organization that wants us to do it,” Kenny said. “We love doing this.”