As we head into July 4, San Antonio International Airport (SAT) is unveiling a 25-foot by 12-foot American flag woven out of 100 military uniforms.
The uniforms were worn in conflicts dating back to World War I. Most uniforms are donated by employees of USAA, an insurance and banking organization serving military families headquartered in San Antonio. The company is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this month.
The artwork is made by Minnesota Veteran and artist Jeffrey Stenbom. He spent more than 1,000 hours weaving together uniforms from all five branches of service for this latest, and largest, piece in his “Freedom’s Threads” series.
“Those pieces of fabric are interlinked, just like those service members are interlinked to protecting our freedoms and keeping the freedoms that we have,” Stenbom said. “Those uniforms that they wore, they bled in, that they sweated in, they cried in, it’s hard, it’s real hard.”
The flag made of military uniforms will be on display at San Antonio International Airport for around 6 months, through January 2023, and then transferred to USAA headquarters for permanent display.
During its time at the airport, the flag “has the potential to be viewed by millions,” said Stenbom. “It feels only fitting that it be displayed at the airport of Military City USA. My hope is that many travelers are able to view it. Especially active duty military members, veterans, and their families.”
The video in this tweet shows Stenbom working on the piece.
Factoids about the new Freedom’s Thread Art Piece at SAT
- The finished piece weighs nearly 100 pounds.
- Pieces of more than 140 different uniforms were woven into this flag.
- In addition to uniforms donated by USAA employees, Stembon used uniform pieces from his grandfathers and from one of his own uniforms. He bought some uniforms online to help represent a few missing time periods.
- More than 65,000 feet (over one mile) of parachute cord was used to create the loom he worked on to weave the uniforms together.
“The uniform items veterans own often end up in a box or deep in our closets and are rarely seen,” said Taylor Clark, Assistant Vice President and Executive Sponsor USAA’s 100th Anniversary. “To know that we can contribute to something so meaningful…makes it really special.”
Look for this flag at San Antonio International Airport (SAT) presecurity in the Terminal B Lobby.