Must be ‘manufactured in the United States from materials that have been U.S. grown, produced’
In the 21st century in an incredibly globalized economic landscape, it might not come as a surprise that one of the great symbols of America, its stars and stripes, is, as often as not, manufactured in China.
But there are changes happening.
A sacred emblem of the republic, particularly important to the U.S. military, tasked with defending the rights of its people, the story of making the flag has a special place in the country’s heart.
It was designed in 1776 by Philadelphia upholsterer Betsy Ross, who had provided uniforms, tents, and flags for the Continental Army.
This design had only 13 stars, arranged in a circle, representing the 13 original states that declared independence from Great Britain, on a blue ground, with alternating red and white stripes.
This design evolved as new states joined the Union. While American factories historically manufactured plenty of flags to supply the nation’s demand, after 9/11 and China’s accession to the WTO (World Trade Organization), the number of flag imports spiked.
Now, lawmakers and factories in America are taking issue with that affront.
In 2018, bipartisan legislation called the “All-American Flag Act” was introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
It prohibits “agencies from using funds to procure a U.S. flag unless such flag has been manufactured in the United States from materials that have been U.S. grown, produced, or manufactured.”
Meanwhile, some of the remaining factories in Pennsylvania and Florida are working hard to satisfy demand.
They have helped form an organization called the Flag Manufacturers Association of America, which “is dedicated to educating the public on the quality of flags manufactured in the United States and raising awareness of the importance of American flags ‘Made in the USA’, as well as the proper use of our nation’s greatest symbol.”
At the Goodwill of South Florida’s Flag Center, workers take particular pride in sewing and embroidering flags by hand with the help of weaving machines that date back to the 1920s.
These aren’t just any flags, as this factory makes the flags folded into triangles given by the military to honor the families of fallen soldiers at their funeral.
As one of the factory’s staff members explained, “It’s an important department because many times people come to us seeking their own independence through jobs, and they wind up working on the country’s biggest symbol of independence which is the flag.”
Goodwill CEO of Industries David Landsberg says, “It’s been great, steady work over the years, but it’s also very important work.
“It’s an honor to be making these flags for our veterans that have passed away.”
This contrasts a tide of inexpensive, poor-quality imports from Chinese factories, which accounted for a staggering 94 percent of the flags sold in America, according to a 2013 U.S. Census.
The bill, introduced in the Senate, proposes to support American flags made in America.
In a press release about the bill, Senator Sherrod Brown asserted that “American tax dollars should go to American-made products that support American jobs, especially when the product is a symbol of our nation.”
Brown added, “By purchasing all-American flags, we honor our country while also supporting American manufacturers.”
Recent tariffs promoted by the president against Chinese manufacturing will increase the cost of importing American flags and should go toward helping to level the balance.