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Annin Flagmakers: Making of an Icon

The White House.  Iwo Jima.  The North And South Poles.  The Moon.  All of these iconic places have one thing in common: flags made by Annin Flagmakers.  

Vice President of Sales, Bob Caggiano says, “Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong planted an Annin flag on the moon.  That was something that Annin was extremely proud of.”

Annin is the oldest and largest flag manufacturer in the United States.  Bob has been with Annin for over 40 years.  He explains, “Annin actually started in 1820 as Ship’s Chandlers on the Hudson.  And around 1847, the sons took over the business and they just wanted to go into flag making.”

After six generations, the company is still family-owned.  Annin makes all sorts of flags from their plants in Coshocton, Ohio and South Boston, Virginia.  But their best seller is Old Glory.  They produce ten million U.S. flags a year.  That’s 500 million stars, and 130 million stripes, to be exact.

Bob says, “We are selling an American icon.  And regardless of what may be happening any time, people still look at the U.S. flag for what it symbolizes.  Which, it symbolizes freedom.”

Annin Flagmakers grew up alongside America.  In 1849, the young company was commissioned to make the flags for President Zachary Taylor’s inauguration...and they’ve made them for every inauguration since.    

According to Bob, “I’ve always said Annin is a footprint of America.  When you go back to 1820 and when you think about it, there’s not too many other companies that are around.  And because we make a U. S. flag, whether it was the Civil War or World War I or World War II, Annin has been there.

Flags start out as bolts of American-made white fabric, which is then dyed, cut, sewn, and packaged.  Some of them are printed on industrial screen printers.  But employees say the flag is much more than a product.   

Print Plant Production Manager, Mark Layne says “It is the single greatest symbol that recognizes our country.  And the fact that someone wants to display that in front of their business or in front of their home, or they want to present that to someone as a gift, you know, to me that’s pride in country.  And I think that’s pretty awesome.”

Darlene Wade, in Quality Control, says “When you come in and you see all this red, white and blue hanging every day, everybody takes pride in their work.”

Eleanor Thaxton, a Sewing Machine Operator, says proudly, “It’s the flag that represents your country.  It’s something I really enjoy doing.  Because you’re doing it for your country.”  

Annin flags have flown in times of celebration, like the grand opening of Yankee Stadium, as well as times of mourning, such as Abraham Lincoln’s funeral.  But for Bob, the most meaningful flags are those that honor veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

He notes, “America has gone to war in other places so they could have the freedom that we have here.  And who did it?  It was our veterans, it was our soldiers that are currently deployed.  And they went out there and fought that war because they believed in something.  They believed in the American flag and they believed in freedom.  Every time you see a veteran, you should thank them.”

For the veterans and military spouses employed at Annin, Flag-making is a special craft.  Sewing Machine Operator Tammie Pearson explains, “My husband’s actually a former Marine.  So this job means a lot to me because of the way he served the country.”

U.S. Marine Michael Gordon, who works in Annin’s Warehouse Receiving, says “It means freedom. It’s stuff that people have fought for, for years and years.  Had nobody fought it, we wouldn’t be flying that right now.”

U.S. Army veteran Carson Riddle, who does Hardware Assembly at Annin, says “I’m close to flags and I feel closer to the flag since I did serve.  I still get goosebumps when I see the flag go up.”

No matter where it’s found, the U.S. flag represents values Americans all share.  Bob says, “It’s a rallying point.  To me, the flag just means the unity and the freedoms that us as all Americans have.  It’s something we really all should be proud of.” 

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