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

15 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.

  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!

  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.

    • 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. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

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