From the 19th century to now, Troop Support embroiderers continue Betsy Ross’ flag making legacy

By Mikia Muhammad DLA Troop Support Public Affiars

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As Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s history dates back to 1800 with the construction of the Schuylkill Arsenal in Philadelphia, so does its partnership with American flag maker Betsy Ross.

In 1811, Ross made over 50 garrison flags for the Schuylkill Arsenal, according to the Historic Philadelphia website.

As a way of paying homage to its past and connecting it to the present, DLA Troop Support flag makers demonstrated embroidery of the presidential flag at the Betsy Ross House in honor of Flag Day, June 14.

“Betsy Ross designed and made flags for the military and the government just as we do,” DLA Troop Support Flag Room supervisor Linda Farrell said. “She worked one-on-one with customers to bring their colors to life, taking great pride in what she created. We send our flags off with pride and gratitude that we have the freedom to create these colorful symbols that are unique art pieces that can inspire, comfort and invoke pride and emotion in all who see them.”

The DLA Troop Support Clothing and Textiles Flag Room has been in existence for over 150 years and is the sole producer of the hand embroidered presidential and vice presidential flags, Farrell explained.

Amongst the 16 Flag Room employees, including nine hand embroiderers, the staff makes approximately 350 flags for military brigades, battalions and other government organizations annually.

Farrell, and embroiderers Kuo Lo and Linda Le, educated Betsy Ross House visitors on the mission of the Flag Room and symbolism of the presidential flag on display during the Flag Day event.

“I am always so excited and honored to be part of the Flag Day event at the Betsy Ross House,” Farrell said. “To be able to share our story about the presidential flag and the Flag Room with so many different people is a gratifying and emotional experience.”

Farrell and Lo also attended a Flag Day event at the Union League, in which DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams honored Nam Lo for 31 years of federal service in the Flag Room.

While Flag Day celebrates and honors the American flag, it is special to the Troop Support Flag Room staff that create a plethora of patriotic flags.

“Our flags fly on battlefields and in war zones,” Farrell said. “Our flags are carried on peace-keeping missions. Our flags hang in the offices of commanders and government agencies and our flags, with our eagle, stand proudly in the Oval Office, the highest office in the land.”

On the back of each presidential and vice presidential flag there’s a label indicating that it was made in the Flag Room, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and signed by the embroiderer who made it.

“We started using these at the beginning of this year [2019],” Farrell said. “I made sure the labels had as much information as possible for future historians. We are the ‘Betsy Rosses’ of the 21st century.”