COSHOCTON, Ohio -- On this July 4th, thousands of American flags will be raised in honor of Independence Day.
The stars and stripes are synonymous with our country's independence.
But did you know that many of these very same flags are not made in America?
The value of U.S. flag imports? $3.8 million.
Most of that coming from China.
Now Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is taking steps to protect our flag making industry.
The American flag is more than just a symbol, it stands for investing in our own economy, he says.
Part of that economy is right in our own backyard -- Coshocton, Ohio.
Annin Flagmakers is the largest of only six flag-making factories in the United States, producing up to 35,000 flags every week.
A staff of 185 dedicated employees work around the clock to make that happen.
"People ask me don't you ever get sick of red, white, and blue? And I says no, no I don't. I am very proud of what I do. I enjoy what I do," said Anita Arnold, who has spent the last 19 years working at Annin Flagmakers.
"I love to go somewhere and see the flag and I'll run out and check it and see if it's got our name on it," Arnold confessed.
Technology has drastically changed over the years, making it possible to increase flag production, but the flag itself -- and its meaning -- remain the same.
"There aren't a lot of products left in the United States that people in the Unites States are making and those that do are proud to make them and continue to make them," Annin Director of Operations Rick Merrill explained.
And that's where Senator Brown comes in.
He's proposed a bill that would require all government buildings to fly flags made completely in America.
Right now, the law requires just 50 percent of every federal flag must be made here.
"When U.S. tax dollars are involved, it should be all about American workers and American jobs," Brown said. "We're losing our industrial base, we're losing our manufacturing jobs."
Many Annin employees have a personal connection with their product.
The factory's lobby is decorated with dozens of flags, donated by different people.
One of these flags was donated by an Annin employee.
Her son, Chief Petty Officer Raymond Border was serving in Afghanistan when he raised this flag on September 11.
Merrill says one week after he raised that flag and sent it back to Annin, he stepped on an explosive mine.
He and two other Ohio officers were killed.
For these employees, and truly for every American, these 50 stars and 13 stripes represent strength, honor, and sacrifice.
"Knowing that flag could be anywhere in the United States -- anywhere in the world -- and I think we all look at it that way," Merrill said.
The American flag also has some local ties. In 1958, Lancaster, Ohio native Robert Heft designed the 50-star pattern for a school project.
President Eisenhower chose that design for the official U.S. flag.
Senator Brown's bill unanimously passed the Senate. It's now in the House waiting for a vote.