Question: Why is the American flag patch worn "backwards" on the shoulders of members of the U.S. Military?
Answer: A United States flag patch should always have the union of the flag (the blue field with stars) to the viewer's left.
This works well when looking at the left side of the vehicle or person, but when looking at the right side it appears the flag is flying backward when the vehicle or person is in motion. The flag would appear to be "in retreat" as the vehicle or person moves forward.
To alleviate this problem, the International Civil Aviation Organization decreed that flags painted on aircraft must face the direction of the flight so that it's aerodynamically and aesthetically correct.
For consistency, the Flag Foundation recommended that flags or flag decals on vehicles, as well as flag patches on uniforms, should be displayed in the same manner. Therefore, the U.S. flag patch on the left sleeve of a Military uniform should have the union to the viewer's left. A flag patch on the right sleeve should be displayed with the union to the viewer's right. In both cases the flag is facing forward and is streaming to the rear as the person moves forward.
The flag patch worn on the right sleeve of a Military uniform is known as a reverse flag patch.
Last Edit: Nov 18, 2008 19:11:27 GMT -6 by Moderator