Money & Business

The Associations That Stand Behind the Flag

By / Jul 2, 2019 (Nastco/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ahead of the Fourth of July, let’s talk about the associations that help to keep the stars and stripes of the U.S. flag vibrant and in tiptop shape each year.

There’s an association for everything, and there are lots of associations for flags, of course.

Including the U.S. flag, with its 50 stars and 13 stripes.

For example, the Flag Manufacturers Association of America helps support the interests of those that make American flags in the United States, including certifying U.S.-based manufacturers.

Other organizations, such as the American Flag Foundation, emphasize the cultural heritage of the U.S. flag. The group, founded in 1982, helps to put on events that honor the American flag, along with helping to support National Flag Day, which takes place every June 14. The association’s website highlights important etiquette details, including how to fold and display a flag.

And, of course, there are organizations that focus on flags in general. The North American Vexillological Association, active since 1967, has helped to foster discussion and influence flag design, collection, and discussion for decades. NAVA publishes a booklet on flag design, Good Flag, Bad Flag [PDF], which discusses vexillological considerations that help make a flag memorable and easy to read—including simple design, minimal colors, no lettering, and meaningful symbolism. (It should be noted that NAVA itself has an official flag!)

A few other ways that the world of associations is helping to give the U.S. flag a high level of notice and respect:

Highlighting a flag manufacturer’s work. This week, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association took members to visit FlagSource/J.C. Schultz Enterprises, Inc., a flag manufacturer in the Illinois town of Batavia. As the Kane County Chronicle notes, it’s part of a tour of manufacturers around the state that the association is helping to organize.

Giving flags a proper retirement. In recent years, the National Association of Counties has found success with a program that makes it easy for the public to retire flags. Collaborating with the National Flag Foundation and the National Sheriffs’ Association, NACo has distributed 700 flag boxes to more than 550 counties nationwide. The initiative, which Associations Now reported on in 2017, has been so successful that there’s a waiting list for more boxes.

Recycling flags for those that defended the flag. The nonprofit Stars for Our Troops, Inc., helps to recycle embroidered stars from faded or damaged flags, which are then given to members of the military, first responders, and veterans. “By using one aspect of the flag to become a thank you, a welcome home—we’ve got your back—is something so simple, but it’s recycling, it’s repurposing,” said Susan Wells, the group’s president and founder, in a 2017 interview with Associations Now.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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