Sadly, it needed me to get to the 4th season, till I recognized, that the American flags on the warden's uniform are wrong. They have the stars in the upper right corner, instead upleft.

enter image description here

Is there a reason for this?

up vote 178 down vote accepted

It's traditional (but not required except in the military) for the US flag to be represented as flowing backwards as the person moves forwards.

Think of the flag, not as a patch, but as a loose flag attached to the Soldier's arm like a flag pole. As the Soldier moves forward, the red and white stripes will flow to the back.

This article explains it better than I can.

Civilians often wonder why the US Army Flag Patch is reversed. The answer is: not all Army Flag Patches are reversed, but only those worn on the right shoulder. The reason has to do with proper display of the flag.

The blue field of stars should always be in the highest position of honor. When viewing the flag on a wall, the highest position of honor is the upper left when displayed horizontally, and at the top (upper left) when displayed vertically. When displayed on a "moving object" like a person or vehicle, the highest position of honor is the front, and not the rear; so the field of blue should be displayed to the front.

In application, then, flags are displayed on moving vehicles with the blue-star field always displayed towards the front of the vehicle. In this way, the flag appears to be blowing in the wind as the vehicle travels forward (flags are always attached to their flag poles on the blue field side). If the flag were not reversed on the right hand side of the vehicle, the vehicle might appear to be moving backwards (or "retreating").

The next time you visit an airport, notice that the US-flagged aircraft also have a "reverse" flag painted on the right side of the aircraft.

For flag patches worn on uniforms, the same principle applies: the blue star field always faces towards the front, with the red and white stripes behind.

Think of the flag, not as a patch, but as a loose flag attached to the Soldier's arm like a flag pole. As the Soldier moves forward, the red and white stripes will flow to the back.

  • 3
    Moving the last sentence to the top may help... it succinctly captures the essence of the rest of the answer – TripeHound Oct 8 at 14:03
  • 1
    Makes you think... military uniform designers could have prevented endless confusion by simply placing the flag patch on the left arm instead of the right. :-) – TylerH Oct 8 at 16:04
  • 7
    @TylerH the quote says: "The answer is: not all Army Flag Patches are reversed, but only those worn on the right shoulder." This implies that US army flag patches are worn on both shoulders. – M. A. Golding Oct 8 at 17:32
  • 13
    @M.A.Golding No, it implies that US army flag patches are worn in locations other than the right shoulder. It does not imply that the other option is solely the left shoulder. It is of course possible (and documented historical fact) that some military uniform designs display the US flag on the left shoulder, but the point of the comment was to indicate a trivially avoidable point of confusion for countless observers. – TylerH Oct 8 at 18:40
  • 10
    The reason I heard someone from the military give was "if it weren't like it is it would look like we are retreating". – Captain Man Oct 8 at 19:27

You must log in to answer this question.

protected by Napoleon Wilson Oct 13 at 10:30

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .