Fire Department Backward Flag!

Discussion in 'Other US Flag Etiquette' started by Chris Grogan, May 26, 2007.

  1. Chris Grogan

    Chris Grogan Guest

    We have just developed a new door logo for our fire department. The logo consists of a Maltese Cross with the American Flag filling in the sections of the Maltese Cross. This logo will be placed on the front doors on each side of our new fire apparatus. The original design was to have the blue union facing forward in the direction of travel on each front door. Due to a un-educated popular opinion, some people felt that the logo on the passenger side door “looked backwardâ€￾. I attempted to educate my coworkers and told them that the design may appear to be backward but complied with American Flag etiquette. I told them to have a look at Air Force One. I was told that, “this isn’t really an American Flag, but a graphic, so American Flag etiquette does not apply, and if this was a complete American Flag, than we would be bound by American Flag etiquetteâ€￾. Can you give me a reference that can enable me to have the American Flag displayed properly and with honor? I have attached a photo of the backward flag in our door logo (passenger side door)! Thanks for your help!

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  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hello Chris,

    The flag code doesn't specifically address the issue of flags painted on vehicles. You're correct that the convention is to have the union facing forward on both sides, which makes it "backwards" (with respect to the flag code) on the right hand side. This is stated, for example, in the US Air Force regulation on protocol (AFI34-1201, para 2.10.6): "When painted or displayed on an aircraft or vehicle, the union [of the flag] is toward the front and the stripes trail. " The implication of the stripes "trailing," of course, is that the flag should look like a real flag that is flying in the wind caused by the forward movement of the vehicle. A similar reasoning is used for uniform shoulder patches.

    However, this convention conflicts with the general provisions of the flag code, and it is not universal. For example, take a look at the attached photo of a US Navy landing craft. As you can see, the flag on the starboard side has the stripes facing forward. The point is that the "etiquette" on this point is not that well defined -- one can make an argument either way.

    In addition, I think I'd tend to agree with your coworker that the logo (which is very handsome, by the way!) is a graphic that incorporates parts of a flag, rather than a flag itself. I can't see how there would be anything dishonorable about having the stripes forward on the right side of the trucks. Doing it that way would also save the expense of having two different sets of decals or stencils!

    Best regards,

    Peter Ansoff

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  3. Chris Grogan

    Chris Grogan Guest

    Peter, thanks for your reply! Points well taken. Maybe I am just having a hard time with it because I've been in the Air Force Reserve for the last 24 years! Anything different from what I'm used to appears backward to me.

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