Members of the community and local dignitaries turned out Thursday night to celebrate Flag Day at the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 872 at the corner of Mill and South Streets in Ridgway.
The guest speaker for the event was state Representative Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk). Gabler is in his second term as state Representative for the 7th Legislative District. A member of the U.S. Army Reserve, Gabler currently holds the rank of captain and serves with the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 424th Multifunctional Battalion.
For Gabler, celebrating the 235th birthday of the American flag means the continuing success of what began as a grand experiment.
"What a miraculous history it has and I don't know if any of our founding fathers in the 1770s even really gave much thought to what the world might look like in 2012 or whether this grand experiment that they were willing to try out in this new world would actually hold for 235 years," Gabler said. "As we stand here [Thursday], we're as proud of this flag as they were and I think it's fair to think about why we're so proud of this flag. As we proud of it because we think it's a great piece of cloth or because we really like these colors? We might be but we all know deep down in our identity as Americans that it's something much more than that.
"It is part of us and what we see when we look at the flag, it's almost like looking in the mirror. We see what we identity with so strongly. When we think about the flag and our country, it means something different to each of us but we all identify in the same kind of way."
Gabler was joined by members of the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who displayed the various versions of the stars and stripes.
"It's so appropriate that we're here on a beautiful day in Ridgway, and the Lord is obviously smiling down upon us," Gabler said. "It's very easy for us to feel good about our country and good about America, and just looking around, it's impressive for me to see that here we are 235 years after the commitment of a new flag for our country, and we have people who are still willing to give up their own time and give of themselves to come and take part in this, and think about what that flag means."
While reflecting recently on the significance of Flag Day, Gabler pondered the uniqueness of being an American.
"I recently had my opportunity to go overseas for the first time-- I was selected for an exchange program with the United States Department of State to go visit Israel and the West Bank, and I got to learn a bit about Jerusalem and the region," Gabler said. "One thing that I was very impressed by was how much of a presence Americans have around the world. We are not just known here-- I was able to experience how different it is to be an American-- when I came home, I had a new set of eyes to look at this country.
"It's amazing when you're standing in downtown Jerusalem that less than two miles away you could be standing in a city with a different culture, completely different society, and really by all intents and purposes a different country."
Pick up a copy of the Friday, June 15, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.