american flag backwards uniforms
Spc. Tiffany Dusterhoft, 8th Theater Sustainment Command/United States Army

Governments are represented by flags. One of the world’s most popular flags is that of the United States, which is home to 13 stripes and 50 stars.

All members of the United States military branches sport patches of the American Flag on their sleeves.

However, you may have noticed that the direction of these flags is backward – or, at least it seems to be backward!

In the United States Army, members sport their American Flag patches on their right sleeves. What’s interesting about these patch-flags is that they’re backward.

When properly displayed, the American Flag’s 50 stars are on the left of the flag, whereas the right-hand side consists of nothing but stripes.

It is true, in fact, that United States Army and other military branches’ uniforms all have the backward-facing American Flag patch on their right arms.

In order to understand the reversal of the American Flag’s orientation on the sleeves of United States military members’ uniforms, you should first think of how flags fly in the wind.

If you were to hold a flagpole with an attached replica of the American Flag and walk with it, the flag would point in the direction that you immediately came from.

The front of the flag – on the flagpole, that is – would be home to the 50 stars’ end of the American Flag.

If someone were to look at this flag waving in the wind as you walked by, it would seem to be reversed.

Just as if an American soldier were carrying a victory flag, the patch reflects the fact that, if the soldier were walking with a flag in a similar scenario, it would trail behind the soldier.

The idea behind the flag behind reversed on every right sleeve of every United States military member’s uniform is that soldiers are urged to move forward as often as they possibly can and with as much power as you can possibly muster.