The American Flag’s ‘Own Right’ — What Does It Mean?

There are rules governing how the American flag should be displayed. Known as the U.S. Flag Code, it’s a piece of federal legislation that’s nearly a century ago. On June 14, 1923, the first U.S. flag code was drafted. While it has since been revised numerous times, it’s still used to govern how the American flag is displayed. When looking through the U.S. Flag Code, though, you may discover a section about displaying the American flag to its “own right.” So, what does this mean exactly?

Overview of Displaying the American Flag By Its Own Right

Displaying the American flag by its own right means that the union — the rectangular section with a blue background and 50 white stars — should be positioned to the observer’s left. If you’re mounting the American flag on a wall, in other words, you should position it so that the union is to your left.

According to the American Legon, there’s a reason why the American flag is displayed by its own right. The American Legion states that a right-oriented position is a symbol of honor. Most military service members carry their weapon in their right hand. Additionally, a raised right hand is a sign of peace. Because of its symbolism, the U.S. Flag Code states that the American flag should be displayed by its own right.

With the American flag displayed by its own right, the union will be visible to the observer’s left. The 50 stars against the blue background will be visible on the left when looking at the American flag from the front. This position is known as the American flag’s own right because the union is to the right of the flag and, therefore, to the left of the observer.

What About Displaying the American Flag in the Wind?

If you’re displaying the American flag in the wind, the union may not always be positioned to the left of the observer — and that’s okay. Wind gusts can come from different directions.  As a result, they can change the position of the American flag.

What About Military Uniforms?

It’s important to note that the American flag is displayed in a different position when used as a patch for military uniforms. Rather than featuring the union to the observer’s left, American flag patches on military uniforms have the union position to the observer’s right. This alternative position creates the appearance of the American flag flowing backwards as the wearer moves forward.

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