A Grand Old / New American Flag

It shouldn't be this difficult to buy only American-made products for one year. I shouldn't be at the halfway mark of this project thinking Whew, only six more months to go. But let's be honest. It's getting to the point where what I'm doing seems odd--as if I'd gone on a grapefruit diet or joined a quirky religion. I just Googled "weirdest religions ever" and Scientology popped up. So--with apologies to Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, Tom Cruise, and any other Scientologists out there--let's just go with that comparison, shall we? Listverse.com named Scientology one of the world's "10 Extremely Weird Religions." Here's what listverse says:

"The Church of Scientology holds that at the higher levels of initiation…mystical teachings are imparted that may be harmful to unprepared readers. These teachings are kept secret from members who have not reached these levels…"

Um, ok…say that again…?

But wait: maybe my patriotism, like Scientology, can only be understood by fellow Buy-American zealots: those at "the higher levels of initiation" who understand patriotism's "mystical teachings" (I think John Adams would be one of those). And let's remember that some economists have gone so far as to say that Buying American is Un-American, thus essentially calling those who prefer to support American-made products a bunch o' crazies.

My point here is not to better understand Scientology (or economics), but to explain how, as I go further along with this, people have increasingly looked at me askance. Just the other day I was browsing at a small gift shop and saw a reasonably priced turquoise, gold and pearl necklace. "This is so pretty," I said to the person behind the counter, who nodded in agreement. I then said: "Do you by any chance know where it was made?" The sales person said "No, why?" and I, as has become my new habit, embraced my John Adams-inspired Public Passions mode: "Because I'm only buying products Made in the U.S.A. this year." To which she replied, "Why?" It wasn't a "Why?" as in: "Please tell me more about your very interesting and important project." It was "Why?" as in: "That's loony. What are you, a Scientologist? Go away and leave me alone."

To my relief, it turns out there are other nutty people like me. My friend Anna (definitely not nutty) called a few days ago to tell me about a recent ABC News / Diane Sawyer / Made in America segment that featured a store in a small town about an hour from Niagara Falls. "People take tour buses to it," Anna said. "And everything in the store is Made in the U.S.A. They cheered when they pulled up to the store." Thanks for the tip, Anna. Here's the abc.com story:

"The 'Made in America' team quickly discovered that hundreds of tourists hop on buses from Niagara Falls to make a patriotic pilgrimage 40 minutes away to the tiny town of Elma, N.Y. That's where the Made in America store is located. Owner Mark Andol opened the store a year ago with just 50 products. Today, he has more than 3,000 items and they are all made in the United States. There are paper towels from Arizona. Flip-flops from Georgia. Cleaning supplies from Illinois. Even dog food from Minnesota. And they're all selling, too. In just a year, sales at the Made in America store have doubled."

Wow. U.S.A.-Made as a tour-bus worthy novelty? How long--a decade or two?--before those 100 percent Made in America Okabashi flip-flops (referred to in the ABC news piece above) merit a Plexiglas display box in the Smithsonian, complete with helpful information:

As recently as 2011, companies such as Okabashi still manufactured flip-flops right here in the United States. This is the last known pair of USA-Made Okabashi flip-flops, donated by the Irvani family of Buford, Georgia...

Surely we can't be far from putting U.S. manufacturing on the endangered species list, alongside the whooping crane.

Lest you feel discouraged on this beautiful (hot!) July 4th, guess what I found at my local Ace Hardware: a 100 percent Made in the U.S.A. flag by family owned and operated Valley Forge Flag. This is from valleyforgeflag.com:

"It is Valley Forge Flag’s philosophy and practice that U.S. flags are made entirely of domestic materials and that each process in manufacturing the flag is accomplished in U.S. facilities with U.S. labor.

Valley Forge is proud to join other American manufacturers as a founding member of the Flag Manufacturers’ Association of America (FMAA). This association is committed to educating consumers, the press, and flag retailers about the United States manufactured flag industry and its significance to community, economic and social development. Educating the country and helping to enforce the legal requirements for the clear labeling of imported products is an important role that Valley Forge Flag takes very seriously."

Our grand old / new flag flies proudly from our front porch. It makes me feel safe--and yes, sane.

Hope you all had a joyous Fourth!