America For Beginners

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Why do American Soldiers Wear the Flag “Backwards”?

Have you ever wondered why American soldiers wear the flag patch reversed on just the right side of their arm? As it turns out, this phenomenon has a very patriotic explanation.

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.

The flag is worn on the right shoulder, because, in the military, the “place of honor” is to a military member’s right.

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.  The rule dates back to the Army’s early history, when both mounted cavalry and infantry units would designate a standard bearer, who carried the Colors into battle. As he charged, his forward momentum caused the flag to stream back. Since the Stars and Stripes are mounted with the canton closest to the pole, that section stayed to the right, while the stripes flew to the left. Rod Powers

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One comment on “Why do American Soldiers Wear the Flag “Backwards”?

  1. STEVEN KAGE
    October 13, 2013

    But the “reverse” mounting just as easily suggests RETREAT: if the bearer turns & runs instead of charging, the flag would still fly behind. Put the unit on the right shoulder & the flag on the left so it doesn’t look like Joe was hung over when he attached it!

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This entry was posted on January 6, 2012 by in Why Do Americans...? and tagged , , , .

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