A few years ago, I had the opportunity to tour one of the factories that manufactures our flags in North Carolina. What I saw when I walked into the factory absolutely took my breath away:
Thousands of American flags all across the warehouse...
Hundreds of people individually working on each part of the flag, hand stitching the stars and stripes, and personally touching each flag before sending it to folks like us at Flags USA...
It brought me to tears to see so many people from all different backgrounds working together to create this symbol of hope and freedom.
This week's video talks about who makes our flags and what that means for our country and community.
Throughout this series, we’re telling our story, what it means to the American people and our economy when the products we buy are made here in America, and how to make sure you’re buying American flags (and other goods) that are 100% made in the USA.
Click here to watch Part 2, where I share a bit about how, when it comes to our Flags USA manufacturers, the American flag that is for everyone is truly made by everyone.
In Part 1, my co-owner Kim talked about how she joined the flag industry, what veterans and active service members taught her about what the flag means to our country, and why we're so passionate about our Flags USA values.
Thank you for being a part of our Flags USA community,
Co-owner, Flags USA
In the early morning hours of August 2, 1943, a Japanese destroyer dissected US Navy Patrol Torpedo Boat 109 somewhere near the Solomon Islands in the South Seas. This tragic event might have been lost in the annals of history, one of the numberless casualties during World War II.
Except that PT 109 was captained by a young John F. Kennedy, future president of the United States. After leading his surviving crew in a 3.5-mile swim to safety, the young Kennedy swam additional miles to find food, water, and help, despite injuring his back in the explosion. Eventually, he successfully dispatched a message carved on coconut to an American military outpost via native coastwatchers. After nearly a week, the Kennedy and his crew were rescued.
The story became the stuff of legends. It was reported in detail in the New York Times, inspired a movie and books, and earned Kennedy a Medal of Honor. Kennedy’s status as a war hero fueled his political career and his bid for the White House.
JFK wasn’t the only President who served in the Navy. Five others — Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George G. W. Bush — were also Navy veterans. However, the two presidents who had the most significant impact on the Navy never served in the military. They never sailed on a ship except as passengers. Yet they have been nicknamed the Father of the Navy and the Architect of the Navy. They are John Adams and Theodore Roosevelt.
Have you ever wondered why October has two days dedicated to the Navy? If you check your calendar, you will see the Navy’s Birthday on October 13, followed by National Navy Day two weeks later.
While you might assume National Navy Day was an afterthought, it started earlier. The first celebration of Navy Day was in 1922 and was a rousing success! In fact, the Secretary of the Navy at the time received a congratulatory note from President Warren G. Harding.
The day aimed to honor navy personnel and recognize the Armed Forces’ sea-going branch. After World War I, Americans were grateful for the Navy’s vital contributions to the war effort. The Navy League of the United States, a civilian organization, spearheaded plans to celebrate on October 27.
The League chose the date for two reasons. First, many believed it was the Navy’s birthday. However, this was a matter of debate. Details of naval history had been obscured over the previous 150 years, making it difficult to pin down a specific date. Historians who argued for October 27 cited a report to the Second Continental Congress recommending the purchase of several ships to found a national navy.
In addition, the Navy League favored October 27 because it was President Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. During his lifetime, Roosevelt made significant contributions to the development of the US Navy, earning him the moniker “Architect of the Navy.” In addition, he was the first to suggest the idea for Navy Day, so it seemed a fitting way to honor him.
President Theodore Roosevelt had a lifelong interest in the Navy. It began while he attended Harvard University and Columbia Law School. In addition to his studies, he scoured naval documents and other source material to write a book entitled The Naval War of 1812. This detailed, scholarly work examined the technology and strategies used by the British and American Navies during the 1812 conflict.
The book was published in 1882. Although not a best seller, it was considered a seminal work in naval history. Four years later, the US Navy purchased copies to place on every ship in the fleet. The work of a 23-year-old law student had become a standard resource for American naval officers.
In 1897, Roosevelt was appointed the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. While his supervisor concerned himself with navy formalities and protocols, Roosevelt focused on function. He consulted top strategic experts to develop a response plan in the event of war. He also worked to modernize the fleet, commissioning the construction of new battleships.
His efforts paid off in 1898 when an American armored cruiser exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. Later, Naval officers credited the United States’ victory in the Spanish-American War to Roosevelt’s actions.
During his presidency, Roosevelt continued his efforts to modernize the Navy. In addition to embracing the latest naval technology, he improved officer training. He also enacted personnel reforms that emphasized ability and leadership over seniority. In short, Roosevelt laid the foundations of the modern US Navy that would go on to victory in World War II.
His most notable achievement was the “Great White Fleet,” a group of 16 new battleships that circumnavigated the globe, making 20 ports of call on six continents along the way. The ships’ vessels were painted bright white as a sign their mission was for diplomatic and training purposes rather than a sign of aggression.
The campaign provided vital training for sea and battle readiness. It established the United States as a world-class maritime power, discouraging any would-be aggressors. Roosevelt argued that building and maintaining a modern naval force was “the very lightest premium for insuring peace which this nation could possibly pay.”
In 1949, President Truman proclaimed the formation of Armed Forces Day, an annual celebration on the third Sunday in May. The day was a time for Americans to thank all who served in the armed forces, replacing the separate observances honoring the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
While all the military branches participated in Armed Forces Day celebrations, some continued their traditional observances. Indeed, the Navy League, a civilian organization, had no intention of ending its almost 30-year tradition and continues to host Navy Day celebrations on October 27.
In addition, the idea that October 27 was the Navy’s birthday was increasingly challenging to defend. Ongoing research into the archives of the Second Continental Congress unearthed new information about the US Navy’s origins, confirming that October 13 was the correct date.
Over the years, four men have been credited as the Father of the US Navy. Among them are Captain John Paul Jones, who also advised the Naval Committee in the fall of 1775; Captain John Manley; and Captain John Barry. All three had stellar records leading the early navy during the Revolutionary War.
The fourth man given the moniker “Father of the Navy” never captained a ship or served in the American Armed Forces. He was John Adams, lawyer, statesman, and founding father.
In the fall of 1775, a strong contingency within the Continental Congress opposed having a Federal Navy. This was a prevalent feeling among the citizenry, too. However, John Adams and his supporters believed that a unified American navy was essential to any hope of successfully gaining independence from Great Britain.
As a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, Adams passionately argued for a federal navy. It would serve the twin purposes of defending American coastal communities from British deprivation and harassing British ships at sea. Adams prevailed.
On October 13, 1775, Congress authorized the purchase of two armed ships to keep the British from resupplying their troops in the colonies. At the same time, they appointed John Adams as head of a Naval Committee tasked with purchasing the ships and writing regulations for the infant Continental Navy.
Like Roosevelt, Adams remained a Navy advocate into his presidency. After the Revolutionary War, Congress voted to disband the navy and sell the remaining ships (1783). However, the following decade made it clear that the United States needed a navy to protect its merchant ships. In 1793, Congress agreed to reestablish the navy temporarily. Five years later, the newly elected President John Adams signed a bill establishing the first Department of the Navy.
Despite the new historical evidence, the Navy’s birthday celebrations continued on October 27. All that changed in 1972 when Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Chief of Naval Operations, declared that the Navy’s official birthday should be commemorated on October 13.
Since then, October has had twin celebrations honoring America’s defensive forces at sea: the Navy Birthday and Navy Day. Whether you celebrate one or both, it is a perfect time of year to display a Navy flag.
So, you want to buy an American flag. And, of course, you want one that’s durable and adds curb appeal. You may find yourself wondering: what's the most durable flag material?
Many retailers give you a choice of one: nylon. However, that’s like a car dealership that only sells sedans. No SUVs. No trucks. While a sedan may work well for most people, some situations require something more heavy-duty. The same principle applies to flags. They come in various materials, each designed for specific uses. Here’s how to decide which one is best for you.
A flag is only as good as its fabric. A flag’s material will determine whether it glistens in the sun or appears dull and lifeless. In addition, fabric choices will impact how a flag responds to the wind and its durability. The same flag that flutters in the gentlest breeze may become tatter in high winds. A beautiful flag starts with choosing a well-made fabric suitable for your flying conditions.
Expert sewing, embroidery, and printing all factor into a high-quality flag, but none of these will compensate for sub-par fabric. At Flags USA, we work to ensure your flag looks its best by only using high-quality, American-made fabric. Only by selecting domestically manufactured material can we ensure it meets our standards. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.
Imagine sitting down at a restaurant for a meal. The ambiance is lovely, and the menu sends all the right messages — “the taste of home cooking,” “fresh,” and “homemade.” You order soup, eagerly anticipating an exceptional culinary experience, but what you’re served proves disappointing. On further inquiry, you discover that the chef simply added a few herbs to canned soup. How do you feel?
Is canned soup really homemade?
The same principle applies to flags. Many flags are assembled in the United States using materials imported from overseas. Does that fit your definition of "American-made"?
Like many people, we at Flags USA strongly believe that American flags should be 100% American-made: not just assembled, but manufactured. From raw fiber to finished product ready to ship to your door. As a result, we ensure our flags are FMAA certified so we can confidently say that we only sell flags 100% Made in the USA!
We take care of the first requirement for a beautiful flag — high-quality, durable flag material — so you don’t have to. However, the second factor — choosing a suitable material for your flying conditions — is your responsibility.
If you’ve explored our website, you may feel overwhelmed by the selection of United States flags available. What type of fabric should you choose? Nylon, polyester, cotton, and something else? Do you need a flag with grommets, a fringe or a pole sleeve? Should it be reinforced?
Ask the following questions to help you decide which type of flag to purchase:
If you’ve decided to display your Stars and Stripes outdoors, the next step is determining which material is best for your flying conditions. We recommend two types of fabric for outside displays: nylon and polyester. Nylon is by far the most popular fabric choice — it is the only choice at many retail outlets. Nylon flags can be flown from either a house-mounted or in-ground pole. However, while they work in most situations, they can deteriorate quickly under windy conditions. In those cases, polyester flags wear better.
Ideal for most flag displays, all our nylon flags are constructed of 200 denier, tightly woven material. (The denier count is a measurement of the thickness of each thread.) A high denier count creates a strong fabric that is enough for most weather conditions, while the tight weave allows the flag to respond to the slightest breeze. As a result, nylon flags are lightweight, dry quickly, and have a rich, lustrous appearance.
Although the Standard Nylon flag is the most economical choice, we also carry specialty nylon flags: Nyl-Glo and our Signature American flags. These have all the characteristics of nylon flags, with added benefits.
Nyl-Glo Nylon flags are treated with a SolarGuard® product that prevents the colors from changing. While the treatment doesn’t prevent fading, it does keep the blue from turning purple and the red from becoming pink or orange. This makes Nyl-Glo an excellent choice for flags subjected to intense sun.
Signature American flags feature stars embroidered with uniquely dense stitching. As a result, the stars are approximately 25% bigger than those on most flags, making this flag a visual standout.
Nylon is ideal for flags, except when it’s not. When battered by high winds or harsh weather conditions, nylon flags deteriorate very quickly. In these situations, flags made from polyester are the best choice.
Our Standard Polyester flags are made from a heavy-duty fabric designed to withstand strong winds. The loosely woven, two-ply polyester thread forms a porous material that allows wind to pass through it instead of constantly beating it. As a result, a polyester flag will wear exceptionally well and maintain its appearance. In addition, this durable fabric has a matte finish that resembles a vintage cotton flag.
Please note polyester flags are heavier than nylon ones, making them unsuitable for flying from a house-mounted pole. The weight of the flag may damage or even break the staff, especially under windy conditions. Generally, it’s best to take down your house-mounted pole and flag if you expect severe weather.
In addition to our Standard Polyester flag, customers can purchase the American flag in several specialty polyester fabrics: Tough-Tex flag, our recently introduced RePatriot Eco-Friendly flag and our Reinforced Polyester flag. So how do you decide which one is best for you?
Tough-Tex flags are the polyester version of the Nyl-Glo nylon flags. Both are treated with the same SolarGuard® product that keeps your flag’s reds red and blues blue, even if it fades over time. No Orange, White, and Purple for you!
RePatriot© eco-friendly flags are made in the USA using plastic bottles recycled into Repreve rPET. It is a durable material with colors that will last twice as long as a traditional nylon flag. In addition, each flag uses at least 15 recycled bottles and has no imported oil by-products.
Reinforced Polyester flags include additional features designed to maximize the life of large flags — 8 by 12 feet and up. Enormous flags are expensive and must be flown at heights where the wind can be brutal, causing them to wear quickly (sometimes less than 30 days). The reinforcement of large flags helps maximize wear in high wind circumstances, sometimes increasing its life by 20% or more. Combined with our repair service, reinforcing your large polyester flag may give your two to three times the life out of your original purchase.
Planning a flag display indoors opens up a couple of additional options. While there is no reason not to use a standard nylon flag, other options may complement your decor better.
If you love the look of natural fibers, cotton is your go-to. Since our country’s earliest days, flag makers have been stitching flags out of cotton. Unfortunately, this beautiful fabric fell out of favor for outside flag displays because the natural fibers deteriorated in the elements fairly quickly. Nylon and polyester lasted longer.
However, you don’t have that problem inside. Our high-quality cotton flags, featuring sewn stripes and beautifully embroidered stars, create a classic, timeless look. That makes it perfect for your home, as well as parades and other ceremonial displays,
Fringed flags are the most widely used in indoor displays. The lustrous gold fringe complements the luxurious sheen of the nylon flag, making it perfect for adding pomp and formality to ceremonies, parades, offices, and courtrooms.
In addition, a wide variety of flags are available with fringed edging, making it easier to create an attractive multi-flag display. For example, you can fly your state flag and Old Glory with matching fringe for a cohesive look.
Fringed flags come with a pole sleeve that slides over an indoor pole for easy mounting. In addition, our Made in the USA Fringed American flags feature sewn stripes and embroidered stars, which gives your indoor display a little something special.
Purchasing the Red, White, and Blue is not a one-size-fits-all activity. Choosing a suitable material for your flying conditions is important the ensure your flag looks its best and doesn’t wear out prematurely. Flags USA is your source for the perfect American flag, regardless of where you’re flying it. Plus, you can shop knowing your American flag and the materials it’s made from are 100% made in the USA.