This year flag dealers and flag collectors from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C. to exchange thoughts and stories between the retail and the intellectual sides of the flag world.

We joined both groups back in the early 90’s when we opened up our first  flag shop in Manchester, MD.  Our duty to the National Independent Flag Dealer Association (NIFDA) is to sell only American made American flags and state flags.  We’ve extended with all American made international flags, military flags, civilian service flags, advertising flags, in ground flagpoles, nautical flags, and more.  In fact if it is possible to manufacture it within the U.S. without charging an arm and a leg, we will always sell the American made version.

The North American Vexillogical Association (NAVA) and Federated International of Associations Vexillogical (FIAV) are flag fans and researchers.  They’re members that have day-to-day jobs; some also in the flag industry.  These great people can tell you what year, what event, and what location a flag is from.  They study the designs, textiles and symbolism.

Our connection with NAVA allowed us a unique experience at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Jennifer Locke Jones, Chair of the Armed Forces History Division, invited NIFDA and NAVA members into the archives of the museum.  Together they helped identify information about flags that the museum was unable to uncover by themselves.   It was such a surreal experience for us all.

We saw many archived flags that day, but one of the most interesting was a flag they had just received. It’s origin was Louisiana. This flag was actually belonged to Benjamin Franklin Butler, major general in the Union Army during the Civil War. It had flew for years, had a number of repairs, and came to them in a paper bag.  Once restored it will be displayed at the museum.  Jennifer gave us permission to show images of this flag but these images belong to her and we ask that you do not copy them from our site, even for personal use, without her permission.

            

We toured almost the whole museum while at the Smithsonian for the day.  Other highlights were the Star Spangled Banner Flag made by Mary Pickersgill in 1813. This flag was the inspiration for our National Anthem.

Lastly we saw a few artifacts from September 11, 2001 in the Price of Freedom Exhibit.  Below you’ll see a steel column assembly from the 17th floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower.  The sight of these assemblies is just a glimpse of the total amount of destruction which took place that day.  It is both sad and angering to think that such an act could have actually taken place.

From the wreckage of the Flight 93, these artifacts were displayed. An Airfone almost mangled beyond recognition and the identifications cards of Patrick Dunn.  Patrick was a Navy commander working at the Pentagon the day of disaster.  He was one of the first Pentagon victims laid to rest at Arlington. At his passing his wife was 2 months pregnant with their first child.  This story makes me tear up at not only the overall tragedy and its everlasting sting, but how this one hero never got to meet his child.  His loving wife, left to love that child for the both of them.

Bryan Meckes, EMS Supervisor, Alexandria Virginia Fire Department

Back at the Embassy Suites in Alexandria, NIFDA members met to discuss important issues in our industry.  These include Congressmen making campaign money by selling flags, the effects of Asia imported flags, flag markets international, and changes in flags and/or codes. It was at this time that we were so very fortunate to meet three of Alexandria’s finest.  Dr. Jeffrey Lindsey: Assistant Fire/EMS Chief, Michael CahillEMS Supervisor, and our guest speaker Bryan MeckesEMS Supervisor.  Bryan was a first responder to the Pentagon on September 11th. He was rushed to the scene where he was able to save many lives but teared up in response to the ones he lost.  That day he told us, he heard cheering from behind him.  When he turned around he saw an officer had pulled an American flag from the rubbish and hung on a fence near by.  It’s moments like these that demonstrate how strong we are and how powerful our flag is as a symbol of that strength.

All in all it was a great trip and as usual we learned a lot.  If you have any interest in learning more about these organizations or any questions regarding this article, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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