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Secretary's Column: USDA Support Keeps Old Glory Flying High

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What began as a small sail-making shop in 19th century New York City has evolved into the modern realization of one family's American Dream--a family-owned and --operated small business whose product has been a part of some of the most iconic images in our nation's history.

Alexander Annin's sail-making shop, established in the 1820s, has evolved into the oldest and largest flag company in the United States and is still in operation today. Commencing with Zachary Taylor's 1849 presidential inauguration; to the flag-draped coffin of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865; onward to the iconic image of U.S. Marines hoisting the flag on Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi in 1945; to the flag planted by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969--all were Annin-made flags.

Today, Annin Flagmakers is still family-owned and fiercely committed to using only U.S. labor and materials to produce an average of 35,000 flags each week. From start to finish, Annin flag makers oversee every stitch in more than 15 million flags every year.

In recent years, USDA Rural Development has helped this small business continue to grow and thrive through support from our Business and Industry loan program. The company used the funds to purchase, renovate and expand its manufacturing facility in rural Coshocton, Ohio which today employs approximately 225 proud Ohioans.

Most recently, Annin Flagmakers donated labor and materials to help restore the National 9/11 Flag, destroyed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. This flag, which has traveled the breadth of the United States and has been stitched upon by hundreds of American hands, also integrates thread from the original Star Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

As we celebrate American independence this weekend with family, friends, feasting and fireworks, let us also remember the brave men and women across the centuries whose commitment to duty was so deep that they gave their own lives to protect others. The American flag stands as a proud symbol of their sacrifice, and reminds us of our many blessings. Because of them, each and every one of us is able to pursue the opportunity for life, liberty, and our own personal American Dream.


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