Flags on the Starboard Side

Discussion in 'US Flag Display' started by FlyRight53, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. FlyRight53

    FlyRight53 New Member

    1. Does anyone know of anything official, like a regulation, that says "union forward on the starboard side?" The only guidance I've found is to keep the union in the upper left when affixing to a wall. Flag Code 2-4(e)(2)

    2. Does anyone know when we started using the union forward on the starboard side for vehicles and uniforms? I seem to think that the union-forward flag on military uniforms started with the Iraq campaign.

    Please let me know what you think. Thanks and cheers!
     
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Greetings FlyRight -- welcome!

    You're correct that the flag code doesn't say anything about the orientation of flags on uniforms and vehicles. However, military regs do. Take a look at my post in this thread:

    http://www.usa-flag-site.org/forum/improper-display-2006.html

    Which has the citations.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  3. FlyRight53

    FlyRight53 New Member

    Many thanks Peter. I see that AR 670-1 is dated 3 February 2005 and AFI34-1201 is dated 4 October 2006. Do you know if the "star field faces forward" (Army) and "union is toward the front" (Air Force) elements were included in military regulations before those dates? It appears that our friend and hero rlhdrider did not have that regulation during Viet Nam. I don't remember this flag patch during Desert Storm but I noticed it during Iraq. Any insights on this piece of flag history would be greatly appreciated. Best Regards.
     
  4. FlyRight53

    FlyRight53 New Member

    The reason I wanted to know when we started using backwards flags on the starboard side is because I believe it is a relatively recent development. In other words, the backwards flag has not been around forever and the guidance is subject to change.

    The rationale of the flag flying in the wind as the person or vehicle charges forward has limited merit, in my thinking. When the person or vehicle is stationary, the flag is just plain backwards. Furthermore, the material to which the backwards flag is affixed is stationary in relation to the flag itself. Even if the plane is flying 500 mph, the fuselage is stationary in relation to the flag.

    The backwards flag causes confusion, as patriotically noted in many of the threads of this excellent forum. If we are confused, how do the natives think in the foreign lands in which our uniformed heroes serve? Across the world on every continent, the global population is exposed to the backwards flag and they may think that's the real flag. As a regular US citizen, I am offended that they think that our flag legitimately has the union blue in the upper right. They, like all of us, should know that our flag has only one right way to be - blue upper left.

    I would propose a national movement to change the Flag Code AR 840-10 by the President. Rather than specify the display of the flag against a wall, section 2-4(e) would read "Affixed to any object" and paragraph (2) would read "When the flag of the United States is displayed either horizontally or vertically affixed to any object, the union will be uppermost to the flag's own right, that is to the observer's left facing the display." Modifying the Flag Code would eliminate the confusion of all organizations having to decide for themselves whether to show the backwards flag on the starboard side or not.

    An exception would be when the flag replica is depicted on the starboard side with the staff and halyard, as we've seen on some fire trucks. To me, that is a beautiful display because the staff and halyard really do show the flag as if flying into battle.

    Does anybody else agree with me? I'd appreciate your feedback. Thanks and cheers. FlyRight53
     
  5. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    The reason I wanted to know when we started using backwards flags on the starboard side is because I believe it is a relatively recent development.

    Actually, it is not. Flags on aircraft, in particular, have been that way since the 1930s, as seen on this Boeing 314 flying boat:

    Boeing-314-Clipper-PanAm002 sm.jpg

    However, this was not universal. Here, the liner SS America has the unions facing aft on her wartime nationality markings:

    SS America in Panama Canal sm.jpg

    Today, the union-forward is standard on most aircraft and spacecraft. For example, most US-registered airliners have small US flags beside their registration numbers, with the union facing forward on both sides. As discussed in earlier posts, both Army and Airforce regulations specify it this way. However, it's still not universal, as shown on this Navy landing craft:

    20050531ran816553334_030-BoxerLCAC6-s.jpg

    ((It's shown that way on the drawings -- I verified that when I worked on the LCAC program many years ago!))

    When the person or vehicle is stationary, the flag is just plain backwards.

    No, it's not really. The union-on-the-left is a display convention that the flag code specifies when the flag is displayed against a wall or in a window. The code does not address the orientation of flags on vehicles or uniform patches. Perhaps it should, but it doesn't. The most common convention (on vehicles, anyway) is to face the union forward on both sides. If we were going to try to standardize the military services' regs and the flag code, that would seem to be the way to do it.

    The backwards flag causes confusion, as patriotically noted in many of the threads of this excellent forum. If we are confused, how do the natives think in the foreign lands in which our uniformed heroes serve? Across the world on every continent, the global population is exposed to the backwards flag and they may think that's the real flag.

    Nonsense. Flags have two sides, and both sides are equally recognizable. It's the "real flag" in either case, and I very much doubt that many "natives" would ever notice the difference. The confusion is caused when people try to stretch the meaning of the flag code, or to cite it in inapplicable situations. For example, the flag code does not apply to display of flags by the military -- Section 5 of the code makes that fairly clear.

    I would propose a national movement to change the Flag Code AR 840-10 by the President. . . .

    AR 840-10 is not part of the flag code -- it is a US Army regulation. Also, changing the flag code would probably require an act of Congress. Section 10 of the Code does give the president the right to alter the code by proclamation, but presidents have generally not done that. As I've said in other posts, changing the flag code would be difficult in practice, because it would almost certainly get mired in political grandstanding.

    Modifying the Flag Code would eliminate the confusion of all organizations having to decide for themselves whether to show the backwards flag on the starboard side or not.

    Again, I really can't see where the "confusion" is. The flag is equally recognizable from either side, neither one is actually "backwards."

    Peter Ansoff
     
  6. FlyRight53

    FlyRight53 New Member

    Thank you, Peter, for your excellent response. I am grateful. Cheers.
     

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