John Lang, a freshman business administration major from Omaha, Nebraska, brought a remarkable world record with him when he joined the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business community last fall. Inspired by his family’s legacy of military and first responder service, he organized the building of a 1,813.52-square-foot American flag and landed in the Guinness World Records™.
On Memorial Day weekend 2017, Lang helped direct 250 volunteers to construct the 60-by-30 foot U.S. flag made out of plastic bricks. Lang’s flag eclipsed the previous world record held by a man in the Netherlands. Lang believes he took away plenty of lessons from the project, not the least of which includes resilience.
“For a while, I wasn’t sure if this project was ever going to come to fruition,” said Lang. “After Lego said they would not donate the bricks, we had to hold numerous brick donation drives. The company that was supposed to supply the wooden platforms to put the bricks on backed out one week before the scheduled date of the project. We had to think outside the box and adjust on the fly in order to bring this idea to reality.”
The importance of the American flag, Memorial Day weekend and veterans and first responders in the project were due to Lang’s father, Tony Lang, who worked as a firefighter and paramedic for over 30 years. His grandfather, two uncles and several of his ancestors also worked in the military and as first responders. His brother, Tony Lang Jr., plans on attending medical school to become a surgeon after he graduates from Nebraska in May and although John is working on getting his bachelor’s degree in business administration, he too plans on pursuing a career as a firefighter and paramedic when he graduates.
“My life goal has always been to follow in my family’s footsteps and become a firefighter,” said John. “I always looked up to my dad and grandfather for the work they did from a young age, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I chose to study business administration so I can learn about what it takes to run a business, how to budget and how to manage personnel. This will help me understand the administrative responsibilities I could have working in the firefighting field.”
John hopes to focus on management and finance after finishing his general classes. For now, he enjoys soaking up all the knowledge he can from the faculty in the College of Business. Helping in his collegiate decision making process was the opening of Howard L. Hawks Hall, the $84 million state-of-the-art building.
“I just thought Nebraska would be the best fit for me. I loved what the College of Business had to offer, and Lincoln isn’t too close or too far from my hometown of Omaha, so I liked that aspect. My older brother being at Nebraska also had an impact on my decision,” he said.
The Lang family additionally serves the community through a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called the American Defenders and Public Safety Foundation. Their goal is to raise money to support the veterans who keep this country safe and free every day. To learn more about Lang and his family's charity, visit their website at: http://www.thegreatamericanflagproject.com/donate.html