Remembering 9/11: Patriotism reflected at Cobbs Creek flag factory

Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Sep 07, 2011 - 04:39 PM

Photo: David Downs, vice president of Star Fields LLC in Cobbs Creek, displays an American flag made with the star fields stitched at his company. The flag was flown over Afghanistan after 9/11 during Operation Enduring Freedom. “When I saw it, it kind of made me feel good,” he said. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

David Downs, vice president of Star Fields LLC in Cobbs Creek, displays an American flag made with the star fields stitched at his company. The flag was flown over Afghanistan after 9/11 during Operation Enduring Freedom. “When I saw it, it kind of made me feel good,” he said. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

If owning an American flag counts as a sign of patriotism, then a lot more people became patriotic after Sept. 11, 2001. David Downs, vice president of Star Fields LLC in Cobbs Creek, said that business increased significantly for flag makers after 9/11, and his factory worked around the clock to fill orders for American flags.

Downs recalled watching the events of 9/11 unfold on a small television at the plant 10 years ago.

"We didn’t know what the next act would be or what would happen," he said.

But what he discovered was that Americans wanted a visible symbol of their love for country, and they latched on to Old Glory. Annin Flagmakers of New Jersey, now Star Fields’ parent company, told the Cobbs Creek plant to ramp up production to fill a demand that was 20 times normal, and pretty soon employees at Star Fields were working around the clock.

"The demand was unprecedented," said Downs. "We couldn’t keep up."

Production levels remained high for a couple of years before they dropped, said Downs, but the company has continued to make more flags than it made before the twin towers fell in New York City. As a matter of fact, the economic downturn hasn’t affected Star Fields. Downs said he hasn’t had to lay off employees and is considering adding more of the machines that embroider the white stars on the blue background.

After the capture of Osama bin Laden, there was a bump in flag sales, said Downs, and in the months leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, there’s been another upswing in demand.

Patriotism is an inherent part of the company, said Downs.

"You can’t help but be patriotic working here because we know what we’re making," he said. "We’re part of the symbol of our country, and we don’t know where that flag will fly—maybe on someone’s porch or maybe over the Capitol. It’s our job, but it also means something to the people who work here."