Backward flags on US soldiers?

I’ve seen some photos of soldiers and on their right shoulders, they have an American flag patch. This patch has the blue field on the right. I figured that the photos were taken and reversed, but after seeing a uniform in person, I verified that the patch was indeed worn this way.

For some reason it seems “backwards” to me. Why is the patch worn like this?

On the right sleeve of the uniform, or on the starboard side of an airplane or space shuttle, the graphic of the flag is drawn in such a manner as to simulate how it would look if flying free and the person/object were in motion forward.

The Flag Code provides that a STATIC display of the flaw must always show it with the Union (starfield) to the upper right of the flag itself. (uppere left of the observer).

On a real flag, on a real staff, of course, there is no “right” or “left”, but rather the “hoist” side (where it attaches to the flagpole/lanyard) and the “fly” side (the loose end).

If the soldier was carrying a flag and moving forward, the flag would be moving backward, causing the hoist side (stars) to be in the front. When viewing from the soldier’s right, it looks backwards, but when viewing from the soldier’s left, it looks forwards. The patches are designed to immitate this geometry.

The phenomenon can also be noticed on the right sides of USAF airplanes, the right sides of NYC buses and subway cars, and other vehicles that display flags.

from Army Regulation 670-1

pdf file available at this link.

A little more:

OK, so there is a right or left on a real staff: to the right or left of the staff – thus on its own home soil the flag of a nation is always to the right (observer’s left), above or forward of all others. The flag itself has the ends designated hoist/fly.

BTW, if you want to static-display the flag with the stripes hanging vertically, it still has to have the starfield to the viewer’s upper left (flag’s own upper right).

Piffle. If a flag is being carried in a parade and I see the field on my left those on the other side of the street see it on the right. So what, it’s a flag ain’t it?

I think they’re not talking about your right or left, I think they’re talking about the right/left sides of the flag.

Mr. Simmons understands that.

If a parade is marching north, with a big ol’ Stars & Stripes flying, an observer on the west side of the street will see the union on the left of the flag, while someone on the east side of the street will see the union of the right side of the flag.

It’s pretty straightforward.

Sorry I wasn’t clear, that’s not what I meant.

Look at the text box in my previous post. Regardless of whether your monitor is facing north or south, the words on the left still appear to be on the left.

Same with the flag in the parade.

Dagnabit! I seem to have posted without reading your post. Such an endearing habit, isn’t it? :smack:

Anyway, my apologies, you’re correct. The flag in the parade has two sides while the flag on the shoulder patch and the text box on your monitor have only one side.

On the shoulder patch or the airplane the flag can only be seen from the side where the blue field appears on the right. However, why anyone should care… shrug I don’t in particular care. Probably someone who cared more decided it looked better that way.

FWIW, the reason the Army simulates the flag as on a staff is that putting the flag on the right shoulder with the stars to the left would make it look like you were moving backwards, and thus retreating, which the US forces don’t like to do.

This is why a flag on the LEFT shoulder, or left side of any moving vessel should have the union forward (Stars on the LEFT).
This doesn’t make sense to you?

When places a flag Decal on a moving object, the Blue Field should face forward. This simulates the way the flag would look to you if you were actually viewing the flag from that side, and the flag was being carried forward.

If the flag or decal is on the left side of a vehicle or person, Union goes upper left. If it’s on the right side, union goes upper right. Just like a real flag would look from that perspective.

Why would someone care?
Well why should a person care about any tradition or honor? Why should we wear white at weddings, or business suits, or ties, or why should a certain manner of dress be more appropriate than another?? Why say please or thank you, they’re only words. What’s wrong with cussing in front of kids. It doesn’t hurt anything. . .

There are certain ways to do things. There is proper ettiquette for most things, and this includes display of a flag. If you would like to do things the right way, then this is how you should do it. If you don’t care, then don’t worry about it. But don’t mock those that do care.
It’s a pretty big deal to me. If someone wants to display a flag, but they’re doing it wrong, I will politely explain what’s proper to them. Several times I’ve noticed flags hanging backwards in store windows and have stopped there solely to explain what is wrong about it. I’m very polite about it, and everyone is very greatful for the explanation. Most people simply don’t know.

However, if someone wants to intentionally display the flag in an improper manner, or burn it, or spit on it, or whatever. Well I support their right to do so. I’m only talking about people who would like to do things the proper, accepted way.

There was no intent to mock anyone and if it came off that way I’m sorry.

However I think there are standards that make a difference and those that don’t. Standards for the building of a bridge, the manufacture of a tire, or the electrical wiring of a building matter to me because there can be disasterous consequences for not doing it right.

Standards of displaying the flag are purely arbitrary and could be othewise without any effect. The flag could be attached to the pole in any one of eight equally valid methods of attachment and a different set of rules could and would be formulated for all eight.

Sure there are standards for displaying the flag and as long as there are I will follow them, but only as a rote formalism.

The more I watch what goes on in respect, bordering on worship, for the flag the more I’m impressed by the prescience of the Israelites who wrote the Bible in forbidding the making of images. It often happens that the image becomes the dominant thing and the idea behind it is lost.

I know that there are many in the US who support holding people indefinitely incommunicado, without placing a charge and who back the FBI snooping into what people check out from their local library and yet who would be outraged if someone displayed the flag improperly.

Please don’t turn this into a Great Debate. There are many in the U.S. who can be outraged at both scenarios.

You asked a simple, factual question. By my count, it was answered six different times in this post.

Nitpick: This is true about NYC buses, but not subway cars. Buses have a defined front end, and thus quite properly display a “reversed” flag on their right sides near the rear of the bus.

Subway cars, on the other hand, are fully reversible. They don’t have a particular front end. When they come to the end of a track, the motorman switches from the cab at one end to the cab at the other end, which becomes the front. The NYC subway cars flags are thus all “forward”.

David Simmons, this is GQ. If you wish to debate your opinions or beliefs, please use another forum.

Thank you.

General Questions Moderator

kunilou already called me on that and you are both right. Sorry.