The Blue Union

Discussion in 'US Flag Specs and Design' started by motherof2, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. motherof2

    motherof2 New Member

    Re: protocol question

    I am not sure where to post this but my son brought up a good question that I am not sure what the answer is. He is in scouts and learning alot about the flag. He asked, "Why is the blue field so important and why is it always on the left?" Any info would be great and I could also share this with his scout troop. Thanks, Kay
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Re: protocol question

    Hi, Kay, welcome to the forum!

    Why is the blue field so important

    The blue field is usually called the "union" and it symbolizes the fundamental concept of our country: 50 states united to form a single nation. The congressional resolution of June 14th, 1777, which created the flag, said that the union represented a "new constellation" -- a group of stars in the sky representing a group of states forming a new nation on earth. Historically, our flag was based on the British "Red Ensign," which had the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew in the union, representing the union of those two countries into the United Kingdom of Great Britain. We kept the idea of the union, but replaced the crosses with stars.

    why is it always on the left?"

    The union is usually shown in the position of honor, which is the right side of the flag (that is, the flag's own right, or the left of a viewer who is facing the flag). The identification of the right-hand side as the position of honor goes back at least to ancient Roman times -- when the Roman legions were lined up in formation, the senior legion stood on the right. This tradition was continued in medieval heraldry, where the right or "dexter" side of a knight's shield was the position of honor. (Again, this means the knight's own right, which is the left side of an observer standing in front of him.)

    The union is not *always* displayed on the left. According to military regulations, the union is on the *right* when a soldier wears a flag patch on his/her right shoulder, or when a flag is painted on the right side of a vehicle or aircraft. In these cases, the idea is that the union should face toward the direction of movement, so that the flag will "fly" correctly in the wind.

    I hope all this answers your son's questions. If not, we'll try again!


    Peter Ansoff

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