Memorial Day 2016: Visit To Sprague, Vets Honored; Flag Store USA

Remember me. That my life and service mattered. Respect what our flag stands for, the incredible freedom that red-white-and-blue banner waving represents – lives, time, service. People who chose to do what’s right.

Senator and First Selectman of the Town of Sprague Catherine Osten in the Old Hanover Cemetery.

All quiet now except for bird song and a breeze riffling tree leaves overhead. Connecticut Senator Cathy Osten, First Selectman of Sprague, at the Old Hanover Cemetery in Sprague, which is composed of three villages: Baltic, Hanover and Versailles. The American flags were placed by members of the American Legion. Interred in the Old Hanover Cemetery are ordinary people who left life – some very young, others quite old, many in between. Veterans interred here (from listings of the Hale Collection) include: John Bingham, died March 6, 1835, age 79, Colonel Huntington’s Regiment, Revolutionary War; Walter F. Standish, killed in Battle of Gettysburg, Penn., July 3, 1863, age 23, Corporal Company E, 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, G.A.R.; Jabez A. Tracy, died Feb. 21, 1864, age 20, 2nd Lieutenant Company I, 29th Infantry, Connecticut Volunteers, G.A.R.

Connecticut Senator (D-19th District) Catherine “Cathy” Osten, Assistant President Pro Tempore, also serves as First Selectman of the Town of Sprague, New London Country. Previous to being a Senator and First Selectman, she was a sergeant in the U.S. Army.

In May, Senators Cathy Osten and Andrew Maynard presented Wartime Service Medals to veterans during a ceremony at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton. In 2005, members of the General Assembly created this medal to honor all Connecticut veterans with qualifying wartime military service.

Eligible for this award are honorably discharged veterans who served 90 days during wartime, or less if the action lasted less than 90 days. who also submit proof that he or she is currently a resident of the State of Connecticut or were a resident at the time of the qualifying wartime service.

Number of veterans in the state, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): 237,696. VA expenditures in Connecticut: $801 million. Compensation and pensions: $266 million.

 Honored - veterans, family members and friends attending the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal Award Ceremony at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton. The ceremony recognized 80 armed services veterans from Southeastern Connecticut. The recipients were given the medal that honors Connecticut veterans with qualifying wartime military service.
Members of the Naval Submarine School Silver Dolphins Color Guard present the colors aboard the USS Nautilus at the start of the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal Award Ceremony. Linked to the By: CT Senate Democrats  Flickr album of the ceremony.

Members of the Naval Submarine School Silver Dolphins Color Guard present the colors aboard the USS Nautilus at the start of the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal Award Ceremony at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton. The ceremony, put on by Senators Andrew Maynard and Cathy Osten, recognized 80 armed services veterans from Southeastern Connecticut. The recipients were given the medal that honors Connecticut veterans with qualifying wartime military service, May 23, 2016. In attendance, family members and friends. This image and the one of veterans, their family and friends – above it are linked to a Flickr album and many other images about the ceremony.

In communities, large and small, flags are placed along a parade route to honor all who have gone before and served their country. Crowds turn out to witness and wave and pay respect to the best and most wonderful assets of their town, village, city – people.

Duty. Commitment. Service. For Memorial Day, on the 4th of July, Veterans Day, every day – the Star Spangled Banner is there.

So where do flags come from? Are they made in the U.S.?

Ask Rob Sadlowski of The Flag Store of Connecticut, LLC, in Meriden, Connecticut. He knows flag specifications, lore, resources – pretty much anything to do with Old Glory or flags in general. He knows fascinating stories and connections to national celebrations and events, history, people. The Flag Store USA has been a family-run business since 1971.

“Scout troops and other groups will buy three to four gross of flags to place on every veteran’s marker in a cemetery,” he said. “Our policy is that we only sell flags that are made right here in the United States, by U.S. workers, and U.S. materials. I’ve been doing this for almost 25 years and I can pretty much answer any question that anybody can ask. The best part of what I do is when a little kid comes into the store and we give he or she a hand-held flag – and they just start running around in the store, happy.”

Senator and First Selectman Cathy Osten in Sprague at the foot of Salt Rock Road with some of the flags.

Senator and First Selectman Cathy Osten in Sprague with some of the flags.

“We just sold about 300 flags to the town of Sprague, Connecticut,” he said. “They are very proud of the display that they set up in their town with those flags. Our biggest flag is a 50-foot-by-80-foot flag – what you would see at a ballpark or football stadium during special holidays or celebrations like the 4th of July at Fenway Park in Boston where they have a flag approximately 100 feet wide that they display on the field before the game and just before the national anthem.”

“The largest and oldest flag manufacturer in the U.S. is Annin, they have been in business since 1847,” he said. “They actually made the flag that was draped on President Lincoln’s coffin. They made the flag that is on the moon, and the one raised on Iwo Jima in World War II. Annin also developed the POW/MIA flag in the late 1960s, to honor POWs and MIAs that we had in Vietnam. Those flags are one of our biggest sellers. That flag is probably our second biggest seller, other than the U.S. Marine Corps flag.”

"You are not forgotten."

POW/MIA flag – “You are not forgotten.”

Sadlowski said the store carries all branches of military and armed forces flags including U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force; Army National Guard, U.S. Army Retired, U.S. Navy Retired, U.S. Air Force Retired. Also Vietnam Veterans of America, Korean War Veterans, World War II Commemorative, Merchant Marine. “We sell flags for every U.S. state and every country.”

“Our job here is to sell the highest quality U.S. flags and we carry about 4,500 different products here, whether they be flag poles, brackets, foreign flags, international flags. Also, there are many historical flags such as Betsy Ross flags, Bennington flags, those associated with the early history of the U.S. we carry in addition to home decorations. Flag fans – those are the half-circle flags seen draped on a house or business for special occasions; there are pull-down types for the front columns of a house, others that fit under windows.”

And this is the Betsy Ross flag.

And this is the Betsy Ross flag.

History is told by flags such as this Gadsden flag.

History – A Gadsden flag, named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden (1724 to 1805), who designed it in 1775 during the American Revolution.

“The warranties that we have on the flags are the best in the industry. One of the most popular flags are in indoor sets that you see in churches, government buildings, schools and such.” Note: They also repair flag poles.

He said that many flags are shipped to APOs (overseas military mail), for soldiers serving in Iran or Afghanistan, Germany, bases, airfields, forward operating locations throughout the world.

“We probably do 10 to 15 packages a week to the APOs; our business is 95 percent in the U.S.” he said. “But we do stock all the flags represented in the United Nations, 192 nations.”

Man holding the U.S. flag.

Rob Sadlowski of The Flag Store of Connecticut, LLC, in Meriden, Connecticut.


Flag Store USA opened as a small store and is in the same location as when it started more than 35 years ago. When calling to order or make an inquiry, you’ll speak to the owner, Rob, his wife, Maureen, or longtime employees, Elaine and Susan. The store has been in Rob and Maureen’s family since it opened. “We personally pack all flags and flagpole orders, and can offer our combined years of advice.”

The state flag of Texas.

The state flag of Texas.

“Texas is our biggest client, they love the flag, maybe 25 percent of our business is from Texas, followed by California and Florida.”

Note: The American flag officially consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton (referred to specifically as the “union”) bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states of the United States of America, and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and became the first states in the U.S. Nicknames for the flag include The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, and The Star-Spangled Banner. – Wikipedia

Long may it wave.

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