UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) –  In honor of Flag Day, earlier this evening, city residents gathered at Utica’s Purple Heart Memorial Park for a patriotic ceremony and celebration.

The Utica Elks Lodge #33, along with members of the CNY Chapter 490 Military Order of the Purple Heart of the USA, joined Utica city officials to hold this special event.

Veterans, along with active military members, were all in attendance to help honor gold star families from the area, and to share the history and importance of the American flag.

Mischael McKenna was also awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart Special Recognition Award for her work with the Hometown Heroes Banner Program initiative here in Utica.

“The pictures of our veterans from our community remind us that freedom isn’t free, but the important follow-up to that is, we’re only as free as we are responsible,” said McKenna. “The reason that we honor our veterans is that they are not only free but responsible citizens, but they are also committed.”

This Flag Day celebration also served as a reminder that the American flag has historically brought us together as a country, and can continue to do so for years to come.