Why is the U.S. flag worn backwards on uniforms?

Flag worn backwards on military uniform

You may have noticed the American flag worn backwards on different military uniforms, but do you know why they do this? We did a little digging to find out.

Civilians often wonder why the American Flag on military uniforms are worn ‘backwards.’ Some speculate that it represents the U.S. military is always moving forwards, others speculate it symbolizes the flag always points home.

Flag worn backwards on military uniform

However, according to Army regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, the regulation states when authorized for application to the proper uniform, the U.S. 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. The appropriate replica for the right shoulder sleeve is identified as the ‘reverse side flag’.”

The same can be said about American aircrafts, both planes and space shuttles. The next time you are at an airport, pay close attention to American jetliners and how the flag is displayed. The star field is positioned in a way as if it were flying with the airplane, thus causing the flag to look as though it is flying backwards on one side of the plane.

American Space Shuttles

Source: http://www.usflag.org/flagpatch.html

50 thoughts on “Why is the U.S. flag worn backwards on uniforms?

  1. As in most things military there was a screw up with the contractor who supplied flag patches in reverse.
    Rather than correct the error, the military came up with the lame flag flying forward story.
    It makes no sense to go against years of traditional
    use unless some civilian was trying to cover up his mistake.
    To see the way to wear the flag as a shoulder patch, look at any WWII paratrooper
    uniform from D-Day.

  2. Just amazing and well written post, flags for any of the country is very important to the people belongs to that country, and they also must know the facts related to the flags.

  3. It’s unpatriotic to wear or display the flag backwards no matter what story you were told. It’s backwards! Do Not display your country’s flag backwards unless you are against America and what it satnds for. Yuo don’t see any other country’s flag backwards do you, just proves that people will be tricked into thinking one thing while demolishing the meaning of another.

    • You are an idiot, as a 10 year veteran of the greatest military on earth… the TRUTH is that you should never fly our countries flag UPSIDE DOWN unless under duress. The reverse flag is to symbolize our soldiers as “always moving forward”. Don’t attempt to speak on a matter you are in no way qualified to speak on. You may very well be disrespect someone who at one time wrote a check to the people of the United States of America redeemable up to and including their life.

      • My father retired after 30 years in the military, and my husband retired after 20. I also have a brother & brother-in-law that are 20 year veterans. Before you continue to call someone an “idiot,” YOU should educate yourself. The U.S. flag has NOT always been flown backwards. That is something that has appeared in the early 2000’s (2003 I think). To our U.S. servicemen who sacrificed so much and made their careers, not just 10 years, and for those of us who respect our U.S. flag and what it represents, we DO see it as disrespectful. I understand the flying forward thing, but I feel that was a dumb idea. Please be respectful to those older vets who helped keep our country free while you were still growing up.

        • The reason the flag was reversed in the early 2000’s is simple as the patriot act, when this bill came into place it removed the U.S. that we have grown up in. The act placed our military into the hands of a shadow government, and as a way to boast their achievement they had the flag reversed. I remember the flag always being stars to the right, no matter where on the soldier it was placed. But it is a form of mockery to those who love the freedoms we have and the men who have bled for this nation, unfortunately now we live under the control of a corporation, and we are nothing but property to these owners. Now we can only watch our soldiers walk with a patch that shows the new ownership of this nation.

  4. This Backwards Flag Patch stands for the OPPOSITE of what America represents, LIFE, LIBERTY and Pursuit of Happiness. It is a ANTI-AMERICAN PATCH. Reverse American Flag patches/stickers represent the Opposite Symbolic Meaning!!

    Be a real American and oppose this brainwashed atrocity that has many fooled by using the “blowing in the wind” story, save it for a real flag!! HONOR YOUR COUNTRY and preserve the high standards and morals to which we hold our country’s flag to!

    • I tried really hard to scroll past your comment, but I just couldn’t. Your comment about our Soldiers not being real Americans is, well ignorant. They are the ones who are risking everything, including their own lives, to fight and serve this Country. What are you doing that benefits the whole Country? It is not Anti-American, it’s not disrespectful, its not even disgraceful. It’s the uniform of a Soldier – an American Soldier. What is disgraceful is the people that the Soldier has promised to protect and serve are tearing every little detail apart and making them look like less than the are. If you want to be good to our military – then be a citizen worth protecting. If you don’t know why or what the origin of something is, then what difference does it make? Has your life been altered bc you don’t know why the flag fly’s Union right? Will it alter your life if you don’t know? Somethings the entire population was not meant to know, it stays within the brotherhood/sisterhood of the military members. Every branch has traditions that go to their very beginning in cases, some have carried on and some were stopped. Uniforms have changed over time to accommodate the necessities of the time. So, basically I’m saying that just bc you don’t know don’t start spewing Anri-American anything, bc a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman, Coast Guard, National Guard is the picture of patriotism. HOOYAH!!! #Navyliferocks

  5. The AMERICAN FLAG DISPLAYED BACKWARDS stands for the OPPOSITE OF AMERICA! Display it properly and stop degrading your own country’s flag for crying out loud! WAKE UP.
    Fly her high and display it like a real American!! Don’t display backwards flag stickers in the name of wind!!! IT”S BACKWARDS to degrade the Flag and everything she stands for!! Honor it!!
    OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE and teach people to NOT fall for the wind excuse to display the backwards American Flag all over…..You want a flag blowing in the wind go get one that’s on a stick then damnit!!
    Kriessakes people WAKE UP.

    • As a Soldier serving in our Armed Forces I take great offense to your comments of degrading our flag by it being worn in a “backward” appearance. As a Soldier there is no better honor than to wear this uniform and represent what it stands for, and that includes everything that our flag stands for. Put your ignorance aside and some simple reasearch would reveal a lot.

      “The blue field of stars should always be in the highest position of honor. When viewing the flag on a wall, the highest position of honor is the upper left when displayed horizontally, and at the top (upper left) when displayed vertically. When displayed on a “moving object” like a person or vehicle, the highest position of honor is the front, and not the rear; so the field of blue should be displayed to the front.
      For flag patches worn on uniforms, the same principle applies: the blue star field always faces towards the front, with the red and white stripes behind. Think of the flag, not as a patch, but as a loose flag attached to the Soldier’s arm like a flag pole. As the Soldier moves forward, the red and white stripes will flow to the back.”

      Comments of “brain washed” and “Anti-American” are Anti American themsleves. As Soldiers, throughtout this great nations history, we followed that Blue Field of Stars into battle to fight so you would have the right to make uneducated remarks like that. That flag on my right shoulder has the Blue Field of Stars in the right place because it is leading us to the fight, not in retreat.

      Its good to be proud of your country and to be patriotic. But in doing so you need to be responsible and know what you are talking about when making such comments.

      • My first deployment was in 1994 with the 82nd. My flag patch which was issued to me had the blue and white in the upper right corner, moving forward. If you disagree take it up with the federal government.

    • Amen thats not the American flag if it is reversed . That is a shadow government symbol no different than putting a blue stripe on it, it is not the American flag

  6. Easy to see who has served in the military and who chose not to.
    The American Flag Patch represents the Flag and when flags fly in motion, like a parade, the field of blue is always in the front and that is the only reason the right shoulder flag patch has the field of blue reversed. It is not “backward” it is only orienting the flag to its natural position in movement. In 1990, I led the fight for the reverse flag for umpires, police, fire, postal and all who wear a flag patch and only failed with the Boys Scouts, as they fail to see the simple logic so many have accepted. Many who have continued with their head in the sand over this issue have placed the flag patch on their chest or back in order to eliminate discussion as to the appropriateness of the reverse flag.

  7. A member of our military personally told me that the flag is backwards so that our enemy — who reads right-to-left — will “see” it properly. If that is the case, I would have to ask why we are capitulating to our enemies. So sad. I will never display my flag backwards.

  8. Thank you for the information. I have seen this on Greyhound buses too and wondered. It is concerning.
    Is the USA going backwards – just like the flag? Seems so as we are in the grip of Forces of Evil and some do not know how to stand up to it, either internally or externally. Reminds me of Rome, before the fall.

    Thanks to Larry and DV for stating my thoughts too.
    Be strong people. Eat FOOD, Think Thoughts, not Platitudes. Turn off the television………Free yourselves and Love your neighbor. Still true:)

  9. I am an American, served in the military… And continue to serve. Old glory has no front or back to me, it’s a flag that flys both ways, when the Star-Spangled Banner was written, the wind blew the flag displaying different sides of her. When I move forward and the flag is on my shoulder the flag moves and displays as it should. If your wearing an American flag on your uniform, god bless.

  10. The flag is not backwards. The American Flag is always moving forwards and never retreats. The contractor messing up and being too lazy to change it story was the most amusing.

  11. If nasa uses it on their shuttle and our military uses it on their uniform like that I think it’s safe to say it’s not unpatriotic. Stars move forward. Stripes face home for our safe return. Stars never retreat. On the field out flag bearer in the civil war ran with the flag and no gun. That’s the way the flag was last seen by our enemies and soldiers. Moving forward. Don’t be dumb.

  12. The flag is displayed that way for a reason. It wasn’t a mistake that it was made that way. Its not a perfect display flag with the stars and stripes facing a common direction. Its displayed that way to represent a soldier carrying his or her colors into battle. Or charging into battle with the colors like in the civil war. With that in mind you have to understand that the american flag wasn’t always apart of the US military combat uniform. So variations may occur throughout US military history depending on the Unit the soldier served with. Its just the reverse side of the flag displayed as if the troop was carrying one. Plus you want to be seen as running away from a battle or running into battle?

  13. Sorry, but the military got this wrong in the wording of the “Flag’s Own Right”
    The “right” as the position of honor developed from the time when the “right hand” was the “weapon hand” or “point of danger.” The right hand raised without weapon was a sign of peace. The right hand, to any observer, is the observer’s left. Therefore, as used in the Flag Code, the flag and/or blue field is displayed to the left of the observer, which is the flag’s “own right.”
    I have had this discussion with those in “Power” and they agree but stick to the reasoning of the flag moving forward statement.

  14. For those who say the flag patches were a mistake in manufacturing, remember that the flag can be displayed on either the left or right arm. If you move the same patch from the left arm to the right arm, then the patch is facing the correct way. So I ask, how is that a manufacturing mistake? The entire military does it, I’m watching a major league baseball game with all the players wearing it on right arm the same way. Security guards, police officers, Americans and many others wear it the same way. It is the proper American way to wear the flag patch on the right arm. Happy Fourth of July everyone!

  15. Maybe this helps you understand. According to American flag.org the flag is backwards only if displayed on the right shoulder or right side of aircraft. In doing so, it gives the appearance that the flag is waving when the person or craft is moving forward. It is not anti-American.

  16. I agree with Bill. I have a friend who has earned 2 silver stars and a purple heart. The flag is flying in the breeze as when going into battle.

  17. 1) Flags that are hung (patches are in that condition – mounted, not flying free) are to be hung with the union at the flag’s own upper right. The viewer’s upper left. Like the Boy Scouts..

    2) The one exception is for a VEHICLE flag, where the union is at the top next to the pole regardless of whether you view it from right or left. Used for automobile flags, aircraft and ship decals, etc.

    3) The Army USED TO have “forwards” flags too. Somehow, the WW II soldiers managed to beat Germany pressing forward into battle using the “hung” flag rather than the “vehicle” flag. (Added for D-Day, to identify the Americans from the Canadians, Brits, etc.)

    4) So, today’s charging-ahead Army uses the Vehicle option for a forward-moving flag on its BDUs. Other than the fact that someone signed the regulation, that doesn’t make it RIGHT.

    5) On my Air Force flight suit, the flag is on the LEFT sleeve. The union is on the flag’s own upper right, like every flag should be hung. AND it also has the union in the direction of motion. Why did the Army pick right shoulder and backwards flag? Um … no reason *I* can fathom!

    I’m embarrassed every time I see this patch on an Army uniform. This is NOT a MILITARY problem, this is an ARMY problem.

    This does not in any impune the honor of Army soldiers. They are following a regulation, as they should. But why does the Army insist on the right shoulder and the backwards flag? Pretty strange.

    See this story about adding American flags back on the uniform in 1972.
    https://www.facebook.com/gary.winchester.martin/videos/10100510937858433/?l=4927016654475120608

    • It simple right is Right
      Military or Government personnel wearing the United States of America Flag on their left, Presenting the flag to the Right.
      United States of America Flag is worn it is presented to the Military’s RIGHT, Public’s RIGHT or Enemie’s RIGHT!
      The United States of America Flag, blue Field and Stars are always presented to the left of the majority (people)
      On a platform (stage or floor) The United States of America Flag on right of majority on same platform.
      The United States of America Flag presented on or against a wall or no able to be viewed from other side, the blue field and stars on left.
      U Soldier are not a Flag pole.
      U Soldier are not a Post (Base).

      Think this old out dated reg. then do not get excited when one presents the flag incorrectly warn as a Dipper.

      NASA we are lucky they thought to put The United States of America Flag on the Shuttle.
      NASA’s educated excuse was excuse after the fact, and there is no excuse when it comes to The United Ststes of America Flag.
      Have any questions please ask the Camander of Arlington Cemetery you will receive The Regelations on The United States of America Flag!

  18. As i have seen on many resources from many uniformed individuals of military and law enforcement the flag is worn backwards when u.s.a. is at war to appear it is blowing back ward behind the marching or proceeding troops. It has now spread to local law enforcement here on texas and many are concerned it is a new change in readiness for police state policing. I am only writing based on many inquiries from many resources and sources. Many individuals stated preferring anonymity while some never acted as if it was an abnormal question or behavior regarding the backward flag. I am a layperson and make no claim otherwise.

  19. It is not an American flag. It is a United States of America flag. The reason the US Army where’s the u.s. flag on the right shoulder today generally is because the uniform is worn with the unit shoulder sleeve insignia on the left sleeve. The right shoulder is reserved for the former wartime service shoulder sleeve insignia also known as the combat patch. In the early nineties very few soldiers wore a combat patch. Some of us actually had our combat patch on our uniforms prior to the reintroduction of the United States flag being shown on the uniform. At that time though regulation simply had us so the flag on below the combat patch. I think we can all agree it is inappropriate to display any object above the United States flag, and the regulation was changed.
    In response to all of the comments about the reverse flag being something whatever comma if you view a flag flying from a flagpole the Union will appear to be to the left or the right all depending on which side of the flag you are standing or which direction the wind is blowing. Yes there is a double entendre there.

    • It simple right is Right
      Military or Government personnel wearing the United States of America Flag on their left, Presenting the flag to the Right.
      United States of America Flag is worn it is presented to the Military’s RIGHT, Public’s RIGHT or Enemie’s RIGHT!
      The United States of America Flag, blue Field and Stars are always presented to the left of the majority (people)
      On a platform (stage or floor) The United States of America Flag on right of majority on same platform.
      The United States of America Flag presented on or against a wall or no able to be viewed from other side, the blue field and stars on left.
      U Soldier are not a Flag pole.
      U Soldier are not a Post (Base).

      Think this old out dated reg. then do not get excited when one presents the flag incorrectly warn as a Dipper.

      NASA we are lucky they thought to put The United States of America Flag on the Shuttle.
      NASA’s educated excuse was excuse after the fact, and there is no excuse when it comes to The United Ststes of America Flag.
      Have any questions please ask the Camander of Arlington Cemetery you will receive The Regelations on The United States of America Flag!

    • Right is right
      The United States of America Flag is warn on left, presented to right of viewing.
      Blue Field and Stars on left always, unless outside on pole.
      Camander of Arlington Cemetery will send you the regs. On this!

  20. I thought the flags were display the opposite way due to the recent main area of operations. Arabic is read right to left and so thought the flag was displayed with union forward thus meaning Arabic speakers/ readers would see the flag as we do??? But what do I know I’m British and never served…my deepest respect to all those that have served and are serving.

  21. The United States of America Flag is warn on left, presented right to viewing.
    Blue Field and Stars on left.
    Exception outside on flag pole.

  22. Flag worn with stars on the right represents United nations. When we go to war it was because the vote of United nations

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