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Reasons Why The Flag Is Backwards On American Military Uniforms

If you live in America, you’ve probably noticed that the military is steeped in meaningful traditions and symbols. Everything from the precise way the flag is folded to the way military decorations are worn is done for significant reasons.

1U.S. Army / Capt. Adan Cazarez

One unique thing about U.S. military uniforms that people often spot is how the flag patch is reversed when viewed from the right side. And yes, as you’ve probably guessed it by now, that too has a fascinating symbolic reason why.

According to Army Regulation 670-1: ‘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.’

2Flickr / Fort Rucker

But what does this mean exactly? Well, when a soldier is viewed from the right side, their flag patch is meant to look as a real flag would if it were being carried forward into battle.

3

And they don’t just do that with the uniforms. Next time you visit an airport, notice that the US-flagged aircraft also has a ‘reverse’ flag painted on the right side of the aircraft.

And for those wondering if the red, white and blue flag on a camouflaged uniform defeats the purpose of camouflage, the answer is yes, yes it does–which is why they updated the Army Battle Dress Uniform and the flag patch will be a camouflage muted color.

4US Defense Watch

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