A memorable event for the children of St. Peter’s parish, Brooklyn, took place when Secretary of the Navy Tracy, in presence of Rankin Post, Naval Post, 516, G. A. R. and other guests holding distinguished civil and military positions, presented to them a beautiful silk flag, the gift of Rankin Post, of which he is a member. Columbia’s national airs were rendered by the children under the able direction of Mr. Bernard O’Donnell. Even the little ones of the kindergarten, filled the aged veterans with delight by their happy rendering of “Our Flag.” In his presentation address Secretary of the Navy Tracy assured his hearers that he had accepted with alacrity the invitation tendered him by Rankin Post to present their beautiful flag to a school of 3500 members. He sketched the origin, symbolism, history, mission, and glory of the stars and stripes, and declared that while the symbol of liberty, our flag is not the standard of unlawfulness, but of justness and equity to all men who obey the just laws of the country over which it floats. A banner at first of thirteen states, it now floats over forty-two. Hailed at first by three million people, now sixty-five millions claim it as the flag of their country. Whether it shall in future remain the insignia of freedom, he impressively told them, lay, in a certain measure, in the power of the children whom he was addressing, to determine. A grand testimony to Catholic patriotism is contained in his words : “In no church in the United States has the flag been more honored, revered and cherished than in this, over which Father Fransioli presides.” Closing, Secretary Tracy gracefully presented the beautiful flag to Father Fransioli. The flag was unfurled and proudly waved amidst general applause. When silence ensued the veteran pastor spoke words of genial greeting to all; feelingly expressed his gratitude to Secretary Tracy, honored guest of the day, for his goodness in leaving pressing duties and taking a long journey to give to himself and his children so great a pleasure. Heartfelt gratitude he expressed to the veterans who had generously bestowed the flag. Turning then to his children he impressed upon them in glowing words the precious value of the flag just unfurled. “My heart swells with pride and love as I look upon its folds,” he exclaimed ; ” You must show to all that you understand what this flag of your country means and what your duties to that flag are.” And yet Protestants tell us that the teachings of Catholic faith make our children disloyal to the flag and the constitutions of this great Republic !
The Sacred Heart Review, Volume 3, Number 25, May 24, 1890, p. 1.
NOTE: St. Peter’s Church was founded by Father Joseph Fransioli (1817-1890), a Swiss immigrant. He founded St. Peter’s Church in 1859 and served as pastor until his death not long after the event described above. Benjamin F. Tracy (1835-1910) was Secretary of the Navy under President Benjamin Harrison and a friend of Father Fransioli. He was an honorary pallbearer at the priest’s funeral.