Editor’s note: They’ve moved to bigger and better space, so we’ve re-visited The Flag Store of Connecticut LLC, now at 477 S. Broad St. Suite 7, Meriden, CT. Our original story appeared in May 2016. Long may the flag wave over a free and tolerant nation of immigrants where there is justice for all.
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.
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. 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.”
“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.”
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.”The new showroom has nearly everything imaginable to display flags or honor those who serve or have served their 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.”
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.
“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.
“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.”
Flag Store USA opened as a small store and was 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.” Note: Even with the new location, the phone remains the same (203) 237-8791.
“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
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 2016, 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. 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 – the people who live, work, play and return there after service to their country.
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.
The American flags in Old Hanover Cemetery, Sprague, 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.
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 attended the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal Award Ceremony at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton. The 2016 ceremony recognized 80 armed services veterans from Southeastern Connecticut. The recipients were given the medal that honors Connecticut veterans with qualifying wartime military service.