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Wisconsin Company Employs Immigrants to Create American Flags

The American flag has 13 broad stripes, seven red, six white, a field of blue and 50 perfectly-placed bright stars. I...

Posted: Jul 5, 2018 10:34 AM
Updated: Jul 5, 2018 10:34 AM

The American flag has 13 broad stripes, seven red, six white, a field of blue and 50 perfectly-placed bright stars. It's the representation of the United States, and as anyone knows who has watched that star-spangled banner yet wave, the American flag means so much more than the sum of those parts.

"We're creating a symbol of our nation that has one meaning, but so many personal interpretations that go along with it," said Jodi Goglio, COO of Eder Flag Company.

All you have to do is ask the people who make the flag itself.

"America is all about people coming from somewhere and making home here," said Radica Markovic, sewing manager.

Since 1887, Eder Flag Company has called Wisconsin home. On the outside, it's a collection of nondescript buildings in Oak Creek, but inside, it's a shining sea of red, white and blue.

"Every year, we produce over five million U.S. flags," said Goglio.

Eder is the largest company in the country when it comes to manufacturing both flags and flagpoles, and the busiest time of year for the more than 220 employees is between Memorial Day, Flag Day and the Fourth of July.

"Yesterday we had 450 boxes going out," said Robin Meiter, shipping associate.

At a time when patriotism reaches its peak, Eder embodies the very best of the American melting pot.

"Employees from Burma. Employees from Pakistan. I am from Serbia. We have from Croatia, from Bosnia, Mexico, El Salvador, Iran. I am sorry if I forgot somebody," said Markovic.

"They each have their own individual story," said Goglio.

For each individual, the flag signifies something different. For Robin Meiter, who was born in Milwaukee, it's a reminder of his time in the U.S. Army.

"Going into the military, it made me really become a man, learn a lot more responsibility," said Meiter, who joined in 1975.

For Radica Markovic and Vlado Maric, it's the sign of new life after escaping war-torn countries.

"This felt like a home. I felt welcome when I started working here and I felt like I belonged," said Markovic.

Both worked their way up through the ranks at Eder Flag, while also becoming U.S. citizens.

"It took me like, one year to do all that stuff. I have to study. There is a test in writing, speaking, talking and I finally got it," said Maric, who was a prisoner of war as a child in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Communication requires a particular set of skills at Eder.

"I speak five languages, and the first one is English, Turkish, Albanian, Serbian and Macedonian," said Elza Islami, sewing supervisor.

Though when it comes to some flags, words aren't necessary.

"We don't always get to know that story, so when we get flags in and we know their significance, it really confirms why we do here what we do," said Goglio.

That's what makes one flag at Eder so special. It's a 30-foot by 60-foot banner that arrived from halfway around the world.

"A troop, a unit that's overseas in special ops -- undisclosed location -- they take this flag with them everywhere they go," said Goglio.

Heavy winds ripped one of the white stripes, and since it was originally made by Eder, the servicemembers trusted Eder employees to repair it.

"We are so proud to have it -- to be able to bring it back and restore it to what they need it to look like -- the U.S. flag symbol," said Goglio.

"It makes me very, very happy and proud being part of making that flag to give them that comfort," said Markovic.

It's a connection woven across continents -- one star, one stripe, one stitch at a time.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62199

Reported Deaths: 1753
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5329110
DeSoto338727
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Washington152433
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Tippah31612
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Clarke31025
Montgomery2973
Tunica2926
Humphreys27411
Carroll24811
Quitman2331
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Kemper22715
Perry2267
Jefferson Davis2146
Amite2116
Webster20112
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18813
Sharkey1831
Stone1593
Benton1300
Choctaw1294
Franklin1172
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

Reported Deaths: 1611
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12039228
Mobile9170197
Montgomery6305147
Madison508227
Tuscaloosa398466
Baldwin326323
Shelby307532
Marshall298433
Unassigned281255
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Etowah195728
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Elmore162637
Calhoun159012
Walker147464
Houston132712
Dallas129423
Russell12471
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Colbert110712
Lauderdale109512
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Talladega92713
Jackson8704
Chambers82838
Tallapoosa82278
Dale78722
Butler75135
Blount7413
Chilton7226
Coffee7165
Covington71520
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55824
Marion54724
Marengo52614
Clarke4879
Hale45726
Bullock44111
Winston43211
Perry4314
Wilcox4089
Monroe3954
Randolph39110
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Lawrence3240
Washington31412
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