In order to appreciate the spirit of the membership of Vancouver 823, one needs to delve into the history and beginnings of Americanism and Veteran Support nationally. The B.P.O.E began in New York with Lodge No. 1 in 1868 with a group who called themselves the “Jolly Corks”. As the order grew, the “development of the Elks into a patriotically active organization was inevitable”1. The American Flag upon our alter was adopted by the order just prior to the beginning of the Spanish-American War in 1898 and hence the growth of patriotism and our Flag.
The Elks were the first to declare June 14th as Flag Day in 1907 and created a program honoring the flags of the United States of America of which Vancouver 823 is a proud participant. Moving forward, the Elks then realized that the men and women of the armed forces needed medical attention during the 1st World War. In 1917, the United States went to war and, in that same year, the Elks proposed a resolution to create “The War Relief Fund”2 and pledge $1,000,000 to equip and maintain field hospitals in France. Hospital #41 was organized by the faculty and alumni of the University of Virginia and #46 at the University of Oregon.
Today, Vancouver Lodge 823 continues to support Americanism and Veterans through honoring our flag not only on Flag Day but Memorial Day, the 4th of July, POW/MIA Day and Veterans Day as well as displaying our flag on the lodge property. The support of our nation’s veterans is accomplished by honoring those who served, made the supreme sacrifice, those who remain unaccounted for and those who returned after serving our country in times of war and peace.
Along with visible support at the lodge, Vancouver 823 provides tangible support as well. The lodge provides events throughout the year to those in our VA hospital by sponsoring monthly bingo games, pizza feeds, and a birthday cake each month as well as other social events. The lodge also helps to provide necessary clothing and hygiene products to both those residing at the Community Living Center of the Fort Vancouver Campus or are homeless through a yearly stand down as well. The lodge is a proud participant in the Elks National Veterans Service Commission’s program called the “Welcome Home Kit” where, through the lodge and the Elks National Foundation, we provide necessary household and hygiene items to homeless veterans who are moving from the street into their first apartment.
The lodge, in conjunction with the ENF and the Washington State Elks Association, has donated during the recent lodge year (2019-2020) nearly $35,000 in support of our nation’s flag and our veterans and expects to continue grow these efforts during the following years.