The Meaning of a Backwards Flag

As a tactical professional, you are well aware that your profession has its own unique set of codes and language which can easily confuse a civilian. When it comes to the meaning of a backward flag, this is one of those many things that may be well known to a tactical professional yet a mystery to a civilian. Let's take a closer look at the meaning of a backward flag.

While some may mistakenly think that a backward or reverse flag is show of disrespect, it is actually a sign of respect to display it this way on a military uniform. The American flag is a symbol of freedom and a certain set of values we hold dear as a nation. There are rules and codes regarding how the American flag can be worn such as how an actual flag can never be worn as clothing, as well as rules regarding how the flag is flown and handled in general, to help uphold the respect and honor it deserves after the sacrifices of so many. The only time you should see a backward or reverse flag is on the uniform of a military professional as an arm patch worn on their sleeve.

Now that we know where to find a backward flag, let's talk about why it is backward and how that is not a show of disrespect as you may suspect. A backward flag is only seen on the right shoulder of the uniformed professional. The reason for this is because the stars on the flag should be displayed in high position meaning the stars are always placed so they are in the top left corner when displayed. If the flag patch is being worn on the right shoulder, there is no way for the stars to be in the left-hand corner, so the new position becomes front as the prominent placement meaning stars are placed at the front of the design so to speak rather than in the left corner. While part of it has to do with the placement of the stars, it also has to do with the fact that the flag patch should look like the flag is flying in the wind and this placement helps with that purpose when worn on the right shoulder of a uniform.