What it means to be an American

Knights of Columbus honor Americanism

Residents of Fallon County enjoy the annual Americanism Program at the Baker Longfellow Gym. (Photo by Karol Zachmann)

By Sherry Vogel

On the evening of Feb. 7, residents of Baker gathered in the Longfellow Gymnasium to celebrate the 53rd annual Americanism Program. This annual patriotic event, which was graciously sponsored by the Sandstone Lodge Masons for fifty years, is now being sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. The program, which honors patriotism in America, was centered this year on paying tribute to the American flag.

The Boy Scouts, Webelos and Cub Scouts and Girl Scout troops greeted and presented each member of the public with their own small flag.

The youngsters then joined the American Legion Honor Guard and Auxiliary for the presentation of the flag and led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Father Philip Chinnappan opened the evening of music and homage with prayer.

Master of Ceremonies, Steve Zachmann, member of the Baker Matthew Gappa Council 6294 Knights of Columbus, gave the welcome and a thank you to all the Veterans in attendance. He then acknowledged all Baker’s service personnel that came to the aide of the community when it was hit hard this past year by tornado, hail and high winds. Mr. Zachmann presented a discourse entitled, “I Pledge Allegiance to This Flag.” The ode paid tribute to the history of our great flag and all the great contributions it has made to the symbolism of this great country. The audience was asked to join in the reading by proudly waving their small flags when they heard the phrase “We Pledge Allegiance to This Flag.”

Zachmann reminded the crowd that although “we have been through a difficult election, and some animosities” we all remain Americans and “…we still pledge allegiance to this great flag because we know that we are indeed, all of us here and across this great nation, blessed to be Americans.”

The Baker High School Music Department (8-12th grades) under the direction of Jill Whiteman and JoDee Hess amazed the crowd with renditions of American patriotic music.

O’Fallon Community Men’s Choir (Photo by Karol Zachmann)

Dale Schweigert, member of the O’Fallon Community Men’s Choir, read an elegy, which was lent by Robert Boggs, entitled, “I Am The Flag”.  In closing, the poem stated, “I have born silent witness to all America’s finest hours. But my finest hours are yet to come. When I am torn into strips and used as bandages for my wounded comrades on the battle field, when I am flown at half-mast to honor my soldier, or when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving parent at the grave of their fallen son or daughter.”

A beautiful and heart touching tune “An American Salute”, which was an arrangement of “America” (My Country ‘Tis of Thee), “America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner” followed. The tune, which was one of three offerings sung by the choir, was under the direction of Mrs. Debbie Varner and accompanied by Mrs. Melissa Rost.

Next, two teenage sisters, Jessica and Jenna Paul, from Plevna High School, artfully demonstrated the folding of the American flag set to a tune and slide show.

In closing, the Baker High School Band concluded the evening with a number of foot tapping tunes that were enjoyed by all.