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...What So Proudly We Hail...
Lions Club Flag Street Chairman Don Lee repairs a US flag in his garage. Flag repair is a year-round chore for the Oakdale resident. - photo by RICHARD PALOMA/The Leader

Known as “Old Glory” or “The Stars and Stripes” or even “The Star Spangled Banner,” American flags will line Oakdale streets courtesy of the Oakdale Lions Club on Thursday, June 14, to commemorate Flag Day.

For over three decades, members of the club have displayed what has now grown to more than 300 American flags along the main streets of Oakdale on holidays and other special occasions such as last year’s Amgen race and when the National Christmas Tree passed through the city.

“We have 10 to 12 days per year that we do this,” said Lions Club Flag Street Chairman Don Lee. “We have been doing it for 35 years.

Lee, who has been the chairman for three years, said every year the number of flags put along Oakdale streets grows.

“We’ve recently added flag stations in front of city hall on Third Avenue,” Lee said. “Even though city offices are closed on holidays, we felt it was important to have flags there.”

Oakdale’s Star Spangled Banner Route now includes not only Yosemite Avenue and F Street but also downtown streets of Third and Second avenues.

To get the job done on the days Old Glory is displayed, Lee uses three 3-man teams that start at 7 a.m. and can have the job completed in an hour.

“I’m always grateful to the Lions Club for doing that,” said Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul. “It’s a beautiful representation of the city. It’s so patriotic.”

In addition to placing and removing the flags along the drive, Lee’s assignment is a year-long chore with mending, repairing, and replacing damaged flags and poles as well as keeping all the 300-plus flag post holes cleaned out along the routes.

“The A.L. Gilbert Company is very generous in letting us store the flags at their facility,” said Lee. “The merchants have also been very generous in donating money to our Lions Club Foundation to keep up with costs.”

Lee, a retired business owner from the Bay Area, said that prior to moving to the city, he noticed the flags along his route to Yosemite during holiday weekends and always thought it was done by the city. When he moved to Oakdale and joined the Lions Club four years ago the flag committee was something he wanted to be a part of.

Flags used by the Lions Club are purchased through the local VFW to ensure that the flags are American made.

The American flag is the official national symbol of the United States of America and was authorized by Congress on June 14, 1777.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until 1949 that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day. Flag Day is not an official federal holiday.

The 21-day period from Flag Day to Independence Day (July 4) – known as “Honor America Days” – the flag is flown to honor the nation.

Many communities in the United States honor Flag Day by displaying the American flag at homes and public buildings. Other prevalent ways of observing this holiday include ceremonies, flag retiring services, school quizzes and essay competitions about the American flag and patriotic musical salutes.