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: 117617

Reported Deaths: 3302
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8011179
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Harrison539884
Jackson469387
Rankin401686
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Jones296184
Washington260399
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Attala80526
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Clay70522
Jasper69217
Walthall64127
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Smith59816
Yalobusha55614
Montgomery55423
Claiborne53916
Tunica53617
Lawrence53414
Perry51223
Carroll49712
Stone48614
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Jefferson Davis41711
Webster37813
Benton3608
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32715
Sharkey28715
Jefferson27710
Franklin2483
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 160380

Reported Deaths: 2713
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23573377
Mobile16994316
Tuscaloosa10462140
Montgomery10352198
Madison942298
Shelby750465
Baldwin671269
Lee657165
Calhoun464761
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Houston419334
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Walker283793
Talladega271437
Cullman255725
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Jackson219417
Autauga208231
Franklin206432
Colbert206032
Blount197225
Russell19603
Chilton190432
Dallas188127
Coffee180711
Dale178952
Covington175929
Escambia174931
Chambers136847
Clarke136617
Pike134514
Tallapoosa133987
Marion110331
Barbour10429
Marengo102622
Butler101241
Winston94013
Geneva9217
Lawrence86933
Pickens86918
Bibb85015
Randolph83516
Hale77730
Cherokee75614
Clay75312
Washington75112
Henry7236
Lowndes71628
Monroe65510
Bullock65017
Crenshaw60930
Perry5956
Fayette58913
Cleburne5739
Wilcox57012
Conecuh56513
Macon53920
Lamar5085
Sumter47421
Choctaw39312
Greene34616
Coosa2093
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