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A grand old flag maker

Salute to a flag maker
Salute to a flag maker 03:01

Tuesday is Flag Day, celebrating the Stars and Stripes. Betsy Ross is one of many people threaded into our flag's history. It's said she's the one who decided its stars should have five sides, not six. But many of the flags we've flown since have a different sort of heritage. 

It flew when Americans first arrived at the North and South Poles. It waved when the first American reached the top of Mount Everest. And we've seen our flag go where no flag has gone before, when Neil Armstrong planted the Stars and Stripes in the lunar dust.

The American Flag is certainly a symbol, but behind every piece of cloth, there's often someone behind a sewing machine – and for 175 years, Annin and Company has given us miles and miles of red and white stripes, along with oceans of blue and enough stars to fill a galaxy, reports "Sunday Morning" host Jane Pauley.  

Annin and Co. have been making flags for 175 years.  CBS News

Annin is the nation's oldest and largest flag makers. Starting out as ship outfitters in New York, the family business changed course, and focused solely on making flags fulltime in 1847.

It was Annin and Co. that provided the flags for President Lincoln's funeral. By their account, it was their flag raised at Iwo Jima in World War II, immortalized in the famous photograph, and on Ground Zero on the day of 9/11, when firefighters made sure our flag was still there.

Thomas E. Franklin's photograph for the Bergen County Record shows three New York City firefighters raising an American flag at the site of the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001.  CBS News

"Sunday Morning"'s own Charles Kuralt paid a visit to an Annin plant back in 1979 when the company was just a little over 130 years old. "You can't hang around here very long without hearing a song in your head," he said. "Stars, and stripes, forever."

For the most part, flags are still made the old-fashioned way at the company's Virginia plant.  You need a human touch.

The flagmakers at Annin estimate they churn out approximately 50,000 flags a day, two-thirds of which are the Stars and Stripes.  CBS News

And given the order backlog because of the pandemic, you might say flags are flying out the door.

So, next time you spot the red, white and blue, there's a good chance you're looking at an Annin flag. Either way, it's always worth a salute.

What so proudly we hailed.  CBS News

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Story produced by Young Kim. Editor: Remington Korper. 

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