Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hugh Warner had to take his phone off the hook.
Warner, of Frederick, has sold flags in the county for 40 years, and said sales were at an all-time high after the attacks — with customers lining up outside of his small one-room shop on Elmer Derr Road in Frederick from 4:45 a.m. to midnight.
“I ran out of flags and had to put up a sign saying ‘we ran out,’” said Warner, 67.
Now, in the midst of an economic downturn, Warner said patriotism remains high.
“If you’re proud to be an American, you’re proud to fly a flag,” he said. “Some of the best sales of flags happened during the depression. People have to have something to believe in.”
Sales also spike around Flag Day, celebrated today, as well as Memorial Day, Father’s Day and Independence Day. Warner was unable to provide information on the number of flags sold.
“That’s the season for flags,” he said. “That’s the busy time of the season.”
Flag Day marks the official adoption of the stars and stripes and the red, white and blue flag in 1777. To mark the day, Warner has been busy selling flags from his business, U.S. Flag Service.
Warner sells American flags, as well as historical, political, municipal, state and sports flags and flags from almost every country in the world.
“But the good old 50 states American flag is the most popular,” he said.
The town of Myersville is one of Warner’s most recent customers.
On Thursday, Myersville will celebrate Flag Day by unveiling its new town flag.
“It’s a great looking flag,” said Kristin Aleshire, town manager. “He did a good job.”
Aleshire said the town has worked for several years to design a new flag. The flag is blue, green, yellow and white and includes several town images, including a silo, log house, fire station and trolley.
“The design has different elements of the town,” Aleshire said.
The ceremony to unveil the flag begins at 7 p.m. at the Myersville town office, 301 Main St.
Warner said he expects this year’s presidential election to be a catalyst for Americans who want to show their party preference. He sells a Democratic flag adorned with a donkey and a Republican flag decorated with an elephant.
“Of course, this is a political year and people are going to fly their flags,” he said. “We’ll actually see a lot more historical flags being purchased. It’s the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the 200th anniversary of the [War of 1812] .”
Warner also designed and sells a new Tea Party flag, which has a slight variation to the traditional version that is used by party followers. The current yellow and green flag adopted by the Tea Party movement carries the motto "Dont Tread on Me" beneath a coiled rattlesnake. Known as the historical Gadsden flag, it dates back to 1775 and was used by the first Continential Marines.
“It’s just a little different,” he said. “It sets it apart [from the historical flag]. I wanted to change the format.”
Warner also knows the history behind many of the flags he sells and said the symbol of the flag transcends politics.
“They don’t seem to go out of style, and it doesn’t make any difference what your political views are,” he said.