SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. — Andrew Ethridge is a retired Marine veteran. He decided that would be his path because of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. For Ethridge, Memorial Day has a special spot in his heart as he remembers his own friends.
“Memorial Day for me is every day,” he said.
Ethridge is retired, but his job now allows him to honor his love for his country as he constructs a wooden American flag out of bourbon barrels.
“It’s a whole lot of cutting, a whole lot of sanding, and just turning this piece of wood that’s not straight, not square, whatever, into the most perfectly imperfect flag that I can make,” Ethridge said.
He works at Cruise Customs, a shop owned by Chris Cruise. It’s veteran-owned and veteran-operated. Cruise said like other businesses, theirs is also seeing the impacts of inflation.
“We surely aren’t as busy as we were actually in the middle of the pandemic, which is really odd,” he said.
Cruise said his shop used to be filled with more workers, veterans, but not so much now.
“My ultimate goal is hiring as many veterans as possible. My business model is pretty simple- the more flags and products we sell, the more veterans we hire,” he said.
Putting a unique product out while also being an outlet for veterans like Ethridge.
“I’m putting a little piece of myself and my friends in each one of these,” Ethridge said.
He said he knows not everyone will understand what all goes into the craft.
“All the customers out there don’t know me, and they don’t know my story. They don’t know my background at all, so they’re not going to know what I put into these flags. The only thing they’re going to see is the finished product,” Ethridge said.