Good Question - Flag Patches Backwards?

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Donna asks, “Why does the patch of the American flag look reversed on a military uniform?” Good question.

Proper U.S. flag protocol states that the blue field of stars should always be in the highest position of honor. When you see a flag on a wall, that position is on the upper left.

On a moving object, such a soldier or a vehicle, the highest position of honor becomes the front. On the left shoulder of a military uniform, the flag looks normal to civilians, who are accustomed to seeing it displayed on a wall.

But on the right shoulder, the stars are on the upper right so they face forward. To many, this looks like a mistake.

The same applies to a military vehicle. On the right side, the blue field is facing front. Otherwise, it may look like the vehicle is moving backward, or retreating.

When the flag is displayed on a soldier or a military vehicle, think of it as a loose flag, not a fixed object. As the soldier moves forward, the stripes flow to the back, as if they were in the breeze.

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