Creating the American flag, an enduring symbol of freedom since the Revolutionary War, has been a prestigious craft for U.S.-based flag makers for many years.
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Each year on June 14, the history of the flag is remembered by observing Flag Day, a non-federal holiday signed into law in 1949 that flag-making companies take much pride in.
The Eder Flag Manufacturing Company, a Wisconsin-based business founded in the 1890s by seven brothers, has been creating American flags since the Great Depression. When Eugene Eder, the son of one of the original brothers and a World War II veteran and lawyer, acquired the company in 1957, he brought along an enthusiasm for the craft that stemmed from his father.
“He hung his hat up from being an attorney and took over the business. He had a real passion for the American flag, that it be made in America, handcrafted. We still do that to this day. So he kind of really grew the company into what it is today,” said Jodi Goglio, COO of Eder Flag, adding that each year on Flag Day, the company celebrates the annual holiday and its more than 200 employees by gathering for a luncheon.
Another business in the craft of flag making, Valley Forge Flag, located in Pennsylvania and employing more than 300 people, also has a deep connection to the country. The company’s flags have been associated with different events in U.S. history, according to Reggie VandenBosch, Valley Forge’s vice president of sales.
“Our flags were at Normandy, they’ve been on the moon, they’ve draped the caskets of every president going back to [Dwight] Eisenhower or [John F.] Kennedy,” he said.
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According to a Department of Defense blog post, the first unofficial Flag Day observance occurred on June 14, 1877, 100 years after a resolution from the Second Continental Congress calling for an official U.S. flag. A few years later, in 1885, Wisconsin school teacher Bernard John Cigrand placed a flag in an inkwell and had his students write about the meaning of the flag, according to the National Flag Day Foundation.
President Woodrow Wilson later proclaimed the modern observance of Flag Day to be held annually on June 14, though it wasn’t officially a holiday until President Harry Truman signed a bill into law in 1949.
Created during colonial times, the flag was first used to rally the Continental Army during its battle against the British in the Revolutionary War. The Grand Union Flag, as it was then known, featured 13 red and white alternating stripes representing each of the colonies, as well as the red cross of St. George of England and the cross of St. Andrew of Scotland. After undergoing multiple design changes, the current U.S. flag maintains the 13 stripes and contains 50 stars in its canton for each of the states.