Why is the Flag Backwards

March 11, 2016 1 min read 60 Comments

capitol police
I’m sure you have seen the American flag displayed backwards in many places, like on cars, airplanes, and most notably on the right shoulder of soldier’s uniform.  Why is this?  Well it all has to do with the proper display of the flag.

When displaying the flag, the blue field of stars should always be in the highest position of honor.  So if you are displaying the flag on a wall (horizontally or vertically) the blue field of stars will always be in the upper left.  When displayed on a person or vehicle the FRONT is the highest position of honor.

Army Regulation 670-1 states, “the American flag patch is to be worn, right or left shoulder, so that “the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer’s right, and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.”
army uniform


With a quick search on the internet you are sure to find some people who accept this explanation, but you will also find a handful of people who think there is only ONE way to display our flag - star field to the upper left corner – PERIOD… any other way is unpatriotic.  What are your thoughts on this?  Let us know in the comments below!

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60 Responses

Christopher Zanchi
Christopher Zanchi

February 09, 2021

I understand you don’t like it, but you need to have a different perspective to understand the root and symbolism behind this tradition. Just like saluting with your left hand, there’s a reason why this too is a tradition even if you were, say, a “lefty”. The flag on the uniform is different and special for those charged with its security than those who display it for simply American pride.

Christopher Zanchi
Christopher Zanchi

February 09, 2021

The first Soldiers to carry the colors in battle and who sacrificed their life for our way of life. Thats who.

Gail Horner
Gail Horner

February 09, 2021

The stars, by US Code and by reason, should always be moving forward when on a sleeve.

marcus dolson
marcus dolson

February 09, 2021

The union or field of stars must always be displayed at the upper left of the flag and it is a mistake and disrespectful to wear the patch in any otherwise manner. The backward patches were originally a mistake or an attempt by some foreign company to take advantage of a military contract but got the order into a computer which misread the code and produced the patches backward but for some reason the recipient was unable to find a way to make a correction and we have had to accept this disrespectful display of the flag.

Sue-z
Sue-z

February 09, 2021

I don’t like it. I think it is disrespectful as much as saluting with the left hand.

Eugene Stepanik
Eugene Stepanik

February 09, 2021

The Union is always in the forward direction on a uniform. Please read the U.S. Flag Code.

Eugene Stepanik
Eugene Stepanik

February 09, 2021

Q6: How should the American Flag patch be worn?
Flag Patch
The U.S. Code states “no part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firefighters, law enforcement officials, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.”
The U.S. Code does not address the positioning of the flag patch. It is appropriate to wear an American flag patch on the left or right sleeve. When worn on the left sleeve, the union would appear towards the front and the stripes would run horizontally toward the back. When worn on the right sleeve, it is considered proper to reverse the design so that the union is at the observer’s right to suggest that the flag is flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.
Since the law does not specifically address the positioning of the patch, a decision is left to the discretion of the organization prescribing the wear. As many states and cities have ordinances pertaining to the use of the flag, you may wish to contact the Attorney General of your state or the City Attorney’s office regarding this matter.

Q7: How should the American Flag patch be worn on Army uniforms?
Per Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, all Soldiers will wear the full-color U.S. flag embroidered insignia on utility and organizational uniforms, unless deployed or in a field environment. Soldiers will wear the subdued tactical flag insignia while deployed or in a field environment. The U.S. flag insignia (full color or subdued) is 2" X 3" in size and is worn on the right shoulder pocket flap of utility uniforms and cold-weather jackets. The flag insignia is placed directly on top of the hook-and-loop-faced pad already provided on the uniforms’ shoulder pocket flap. The subdued U.S. flag insignia is worn as directed by the commander under tactical field conditions. The U.S. flag embroidered insignia is worn so that the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer’s right and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward. The appropriate replica for the right shoulder sleeve is identified as the reverse side flag.

inkdraft
inkdraft

February 09, 2021

Recently on several occasions I’ve seen the American flag hanging vertically with the blue field on the right instead of on the left as is proper when hanging against a wall. I wonder if that is just ignorance on the part of the homeowners or is it some sort of ’’protest’’?

Eugene Stepanik
Eugene Stepanik

February 09, 2021

On a uniform right sleeve, the Union always should face in the forward direction as per the U.S. Flag Code.

Christopher Zanchi
Christopher Zanchi

February 09, 2021

It was an honor on the field of battle to carry the colors forward, which always placed the union first. This is the symbol being represented and it should never be any other way despite what some may think. 20 years/US Army

Eugene Stepanik
Eugene Stepanik

February 09, 2021

As per the U.S. Flag Code.

lrt1311 .
lrt1311 .

February 09, 2021

The stars on the flag should be seen on the upper left corner of the flag not the right side of the flag is disgraces and is this some type of anti-America because that’s what it looks like to me when people start coming up with new ways to represent the American Flag do right by our flag do not display our flag on upper right hand side it belongs on the upper left hand side is always have been it always will be it was that way in 1975 when I joined United States navy it was like that when I left United States navy in 1980 so it for you are some type of anti-American leaf our flag along and get your all

admin
admin

February 09, 2021

“the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer’s right, and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.”

Sue-z
Sue-z

February 09, 2021

Who came up with this idea and why?

Joe
Joe

February 09, 2021

Actually, its been around for quite a while. Go google pictures of the shuttle in 1969 and youll see that its not just some new concept or misprint. Stars face running into battle. Right or left sleeve, they are to the front.

Bob Tatgenhorst
Bob Tatgenhorst

February 09, 2021

I noticed on a December 2019 episode of 60 minutes where money man Jamie Dimon was being interviewed in his New York office that he had a flag (of some sort) being displayed on his wall incorrectly. I messaged someone ( lady I think) of this and I wonder if it was ever corrected.

Scott Leso
Scott Leso

February 09, 2021

When worn on my cap Stars always closest to my heart.

Brian Williams
Brian Williams

February 09, 2021

Don’t be lazy. Take the flag down at night.

Bruce Vitarelli
Bruce Vitarelli

February 09, 2021

This expiation is valid – I accept this though at first I was offended. No disrespect intended and that is what matters. This the opinion of a true American who has pledged to the flag for 70 years. I am happy I investigated this issue and pleased with what I found

What Does The Upside Down Flag Mean – newsflaz.com
What Does The Upside Down Flag Mean – newsflaz.com

February 09, 2021

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What Does A Backwards Flag Mean – newsflaz.com
What Does A Backwards Flag Mean – newsflaz.com

February 09, 2021

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Backwards American Flag Patch – newsflaz.com
Backwards American Flag Patch – newsflaz.com

February 09, 2021

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joni hecker
joni hecker

February 09, 2021

I Agree….I was a Medic in the Army for 10 yrs. And I received a in Memory of Our Brothers & Sister Sweat shirt and when I saw the flag like it was on the right I got Mad and couldn’t figure out WTH?….I am now waiting on it to be returned with the Flag the Honorable way on the left Arm….

Matthew Smith
Matthew Smith

February 09, 2021

This makes complete sense. The stars facing the right when on displayed on the right of a person or vehicle signify going forward, the same as America always is.

William J Fonshell
William J Fonshell

February 09, 2021

On our aircraft, in the navy, the flag was on both side and the blue field & stars always was towards the front of the aircraft, always forward into battle.

Patriot
Patriot

February 09, 2021

The star field should ALWAYS be displayed in the upper left hand corner of the flag.
If you hang the flag from the rafters of a stadium so that the flag is visible from both sides, then 2 flags must be sewn together, so that the star field should ALWAYS appear in the upper left hand corner of the flag, on each side of the flag.
If you install a decal on a window so that the flag is visible from both sides, the decal must show the flag in the correct orientation on each side of the decal, so that the star field should ALWAYS appear in the upper left hand corner of the flag.
NO EXCEPTIONS. NO DEBATE.

Kent
Kent

February 09, 2021

Wind or no wind, flag is a symbol, doesn’ t seem to need weather, perceived motion, or ?? , to alibi a motive for orientation…?? Original presentation by Betsy Ross would maybe be best…
View from an UFO (perhaps ultimate consideration…?!) might deduce that we freedom thinking earthling creatures really like to ‘talk’ alot – and others get to click ‘money’ off it…yahooorah!

Robert Vanscoy
Robert Vanscoy

February 09, 2021

Sir I love the USA and I so much love our flag. So I’m just wanted to say this when the flag is moving forward the stars are on the right and the strip’s are behind so what they’re saying is if the flag is on a car the Starfield is on the right as if the car was moving. Same as on a soldier’s shoulder the flag Starfield on the right as if the soldiers moving forward. I think that is what they are saying.

David Rounds
David Rounds

February 09, 2021

Now a lot of screen printed flags on shirts … when on front or back print the stars should be in upper left. Most prints I see now are backwards.. which I disagree with, to me it is disrespecting our flag.

joni hecker
joni hecker

February 09, 2021

I agree! I was a 91B Medic for 10 yrs in the Army and never seen this…This has really been bothering Me to See … I have been trying to come up with reasons like the laying over the coffin of a fallen soldier but like You it should be verticle not Horizontal as(Doesn’t make sense)…I have a sweat shirt in the process of having the flag patch changed to correct postitioning as to Me its whats right

John. Walker
John. Walker

February 09, 2021

I think either way you wears a flag on your shoulder represent our country it shows the flag blowing in the wind if the stars are facing the back and the flag is facing the chest it is blowing no matter which way you face the flags on your shoulder it represent the United States of America and it speaks that we are strong and it shows our flag as it blows in the Wind either direction we are strong

Donald e. Mike
Donald e. Mike

February 09, 2021

I agree 100%

John Zion
John Zion

February 09, 2021

I agree. This and all the news coverage shots lately. Depictions of flags blowing left, when camera angle could easily be adjusted for proper display, or simply await opposite gust.

John Zion
John Zion

February 09, 2021

I agree, and thanks for saying.

Aj Land
Aj Land

February 09, 2021

I was taught as a young child that the flags stars are always to be to the left. This “new” way of displaying popped up in not all that long ago. I’ve also seen it displayed upside down with stars to the right. I noticed it immediately on soldiers uniforms and thought to myself somethings up with that. I don’t think or believe it’s as innocent as it seems. And I’m not buying the “new” reasoning being given. Something is amiss as the other person stated!

Gene
Gene

February 09, 2021

Check the “Flag Code” which is policy passed by Congress. The Union (Star field) is always shown in the forward direction.

Dean F.
Dean F.

February 09, 2021

As long as it’s not upside down, or on the ground, or being burned, it should be A-OK!

Roy Michaelsen
Roy Michaelsen

February 09, 2021

I love this country,and I love and respect our flag.I’m a veteran.I just have one wish. Could congress please start doing the work they were sent there to do.And leave our flag ALONE.

SnakeEater
SnakeEater

February 09, 2021

I’ve always been an American Flag buff, even bought a flag book on our flag, been aScoutmaster many times so I had to teach and test the Boyscouts on the flag. We did many flag ceramonies especially at Eagle Court of Honor etc. I also enlisted in the Army in 1969 and had to learn drill and ceremonies. While I was in Vietnam I had an American Flag as well as my 101st Airborne Division Patch made to face forward on my right shoulder which was because these colors never run or retreat, the reason was that I knew that to display the flag on an Aircraft’s Right the Flags field is displayed forward as it flies in the wind. Since 9/11’s Attack and our involvement in the Coalition in the Middle East each Country was represented by their Home Country’s Flag on the right sleeve of their Uniform. The Military has a history of people that are resistant to change, and to curtail the problem created by this, the powers that be, create better written regulations or clarification of them to smooth over the arguments.

collinson4
collinson4

February 09, 2021

The proper way for displaying the United States flag when hung on a wall or from an overhead support either horizontally or vertically is for the blue field of stars to be at the upper left position. It is more than just tradition, it is federal law in the United States Code (36 U.S.C.173-178). So if the flag is meant to be seen with the blue field at the upper left, why has the U.S. military adopted rules, Army Regulation 670-1, requiring the flag on its uniforms, specifically the right sleeve patch, to be backwards with the blue field to the right?

The stated reasoning for this is that the flag should be displayed on uniforms as it would appear if the wearer were carrying a standard flying the flag into battle with the wind blowing it back, which would show the blue field to the right. I find this reasoning suspect, but accepting it as valid then why not place the flag patch on the left sleeve instead of the right? This way it could be displayed, in fact would be required to be displayed according to the Army’s logic and regulations, with the field of stars to the left conforming with tradition and law.

The only U.S Army personnel in uniform I have seen in the last several years in person, on videotape, or in photographs have without exception had a flag patch on their right sleeve, and in compliance with regulation the flag was backwards. If there is some compelling reason the flag cannot be displayed on the left sleeve of uniforms, or for that matter the front, instead of the right sleeve and displayed in accordance with tradition and law I would sure like to know what it is. To my thinking there is something seriously amiss when our military requires that the only way our flag can be displayed on its uniforms is backwards.

Aaron
Aaron

February 09, 2021

This is America! Fly your flags proud! How ever you choose. Thank you veterans and founding fathers for giving us these rights of freedom!

Rachel Aultman
Rachel Aultman

February 09, 2021

Thank you for the thought provoking article/question. It is an honor to display the flag. Period. I presume the star field would be on the left side on the other side of the vehicle.

Gary
Gary

February 09, 2021

When wearing the flag on your right shoulder, it is backwards because the stars are always closest to the persons heart. When worn on the left side, the flag is in the normal position because the stars are closest to your heart.

Gene
Gene

February 09, 2021

Find it here: http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html

Clifford Herring
Clifford Herring

February 09, 2021

originally when i was in service that was stars on left don’t know why only saw that ????

Charles
Charles

February 09, 2021

I feel this article is written in good faith, accurately referenced, and provides a positive forum for constructive debate. Based on my experience as a Veteran of the United States Army, I agree with the view of this article and I think we should have more positive discussions about Old Glory.

Dan
Dan

February 09, 2021

It’s a symbolic gesture on the part of the military to always be moving forward, if it motivates them, go for it. Many years ago a drill sergeant told us that, there is a right way, a wrong way, and a military way. Life is simple.

Jim Dillon
Jim Dillon

February 09, 2021

Thank you for this, i have questioned this for several years but never looked it up.

Phil Payne
Phil Payne

February 09, 2021

That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Unpatriotic would be with star field upside down when there is no distress.

Cynthia McPeak
Cynthia McPeak

February 09, 2021

I think it is logical; and coming from the military, don’t you think they would know? Now, how do I convince some of my neighbors that it is incorrect to leave the flag “flying” in the night without a light shining on it, or leaving it up in the rain?

George
George

February 09, 2021

I am an American Veteran of many years and have been taught the Star Field is always to the Left.

Jack Holdford
Jack Holdford

February 09, 2021

I was taught to follow the AR so that settles it.

Jeff Den Adsel
Jeff Den Adsel

February 09, 2021

I think either way is cool.

E. W. Stepanik
E. W. Stepanik

February 09, 2021

The Flag Code established by the U. S. Congress confirms this. PERIOD.

Steven Wilson
Steven Wilson

February 09, 2021

I think that it works ! God Bless America !!!

Brian A. Marron
Brian A. Marron

February 09, 2021

I fall under the last group. When I was in the military, there was only one way to display the flag. I don’t know how old this 670-1 regulation is, but I know I’ve only seen the flag displayed this way in the last dozen years or so. The wording that you quoted in the article even seems to contradict itself. “the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right." As you can see in the photo, the star field is NOT to the flag’s own right. To me, this is disrespectful. I would NEVER display the flag in that manner! In my mind, that patch, or a similar sticker, was only designed for one thing… to be displayed VERTICALLY… that way, the field is on the flags own right. It’s almost like the guy who made up this regulation saw millions of these patches sitting in the warehouse, and not knowing that it was made to be displayed vertically, thought to himself, “hmmm, what can we do with all these backward patches we have? I know, I’ll just write a new regulation”. The whole concept just sounds idiotic to me… flag blowing in the wind! So, what about when the soldier is standing still in formation, or sitting down eating a meal? The whole thing is stupid logic. Display the flag the right way, or don’t display it at all. The Union (or star field) is always displayed on the side of honor, that is, on the flags own right side.

Ron Olsen
Ron Olsen

February 09, 2021

I did not know that the flag should be shown with the field of stars facing forward when worn as above. Nice to know. I am just glad folks are wearing it!!!!

mike dulak
mike dulak

February 09, 2021

If one is standing north of a flagpole and the wind is blowing from east to west, then the flag is ‘properly’ displayed. If one happens to be standing south of that same flag, then in should ruffle the feathers of those who are so ‘patriotic’. Those that start needless wars.

DAVID B WINDER
DAVID B WINDER

February 09, 2021

Star field to the left of stripes to the right because we English speaking Americans always read left to right

Mike
Mike

February 09, 2021

If the US Flag is displayed with the blue field of stars on the left when displayed on the right side of a person / object, that would signify “retreat”, and that will never happen…Hooah!

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