Texas company's massive American flag finds a place above Ground Zero

A Texas man claims he was forced to remove an American flag like this one from his balcony.

A Texas man claims he was forced to remove an American flag like this one from his balcony.  (AP)

The 5,400-square-foot flag that will be raised at One World Trade Center today came all the way from Texas, where a small company specializes in big banners -- and takes immense pride in honoring the site where thousands of Americans perished on 9/11.

Star spangled banners manufactured by the Dixie Flag Manufacturing Co., in San Antonio, have graced the U.S. Capitol, football stadiums and New York's George Washington Bridge. But the company has never taken more care in stitching together an Old Glory than it did in making the 360-pound flag that will be unfurled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey today at the still-under-construction, 1,776-foot skyscraper, which will open in late 2013 as part of the World Trade Center memorial.

“This flag is for hope,” Dixie Flag President Pete Van de Putte told the San Antonio Express-News. “It shares a connection to the world (that) no one can think of that day and forget how much our world changed. This was built to honor those lives we lost.”

“To be asked to make the flag is exciting, so very humbling. You want to get it right,” added Van de Putte, whose grandmother started the company in 1958. “Every detail, from the largest star to the small stitching, has to be absolutely correct.”

Six workers, working with 560 yards of durable polyester and 1,650 yards of nylon thread, worked for three months to make the flag, according to the Express-News. Each stripe on the flag is 55 inches high, and every star measures 42 inches across.

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“The biggest challenge was not letting it touch the floor," Terry Pineda, 59, whose daughter and two sons all served in the military following the attacks, told the paper.

The banner will be hoisted to the 73rd story, where it will hang against the glass of the skyscraper. And while the company has never made a more important Stars and Stripes, it has made bigger ones.

Dixie's 150-foot-by-300-foot flag flies above the Alamo Bowl, and one with the same dimensions as the flag being raised today flew above the World Trade Center before being moved to the George Washington Bridge, which spans New York and New Jersey. It is now the largest free-waving American flag in history. Other flags made by Dixie have provided a patriotic backdrop for presidential inaugurations.

Pineda told the Express-News she understands the significance and symbolism of her latest handiwork.

“Something was lost on 9/11, and we all lost a bit of our freedom,” she told the paper. “The people that lost their loved ones know there's nothing that can bring them back.

“But a flag or memorial can show [those families] aren't alone, and we are all standing behind them in our loss,” Pineda added. “This flag, it will hang in New York and mean so much to so many people."

Click for more at San Antonio Express-News.