What Do Veteran Flags Mean?

The United States of America has a rich history, and veterans have played a key role in it. On the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we reflect on how those who fought for our country helped shape the nation we live in today. Many flags were created to honor their sacrifices and celebrate their contributions.

U.S. Flag

The U.S. Flag is a symbol of our nation's strength and unity. It has been the symbol of America since 1777, when it was first flown at the Battle of Saratoga. The American flag was originally designed as a banner for military units to carry into battle. In 1777, during the War for Independence, General Washington asked for an American flag that could be easily identified from a distance. This request resulted in Betsy Ross being commissioned to sew 13 white stars on a blue background in June 1777.

In 1818, Secretary of War John Calhoun standardized the dimensions and designs of military uniforms and flags so they would be consistent throughout all branches of service. The pattern used today was based on this standard design which set proportions at 1:2 (i.e., one unit wide by two units long), with canton size set at 5/8ths length by 1/4th height.

The first recorded use of “Old Glory” as an unofficial nickname for the U.S. flag occurred during a sea battle between USS Constitution vs. HMS Guerrière on August 19, 1812, in Long Island Sound, where Captain James Lawrence exclaimed, “Don't give up the ship!” before dying from his wounds sustained during battle.


The POW/MIA flag is a symbol of honor and respect for those who are missing in action or prisoners of war. It was designed by Gold Star Mother Mary Ann Piccirillo to honor her son, Air Force Captain John P. Sacco Jr., who was killed in Vietnam on June 4, 1967.

The POW/MIA flag is flown at half-staff until the prisoner of war is released, or the remains are recovered. If you see this flag being flown at half-staff, it means that there has been a loss of life among our military personnel, and we should stop and reflect for a moment before proceeding with our day.

This flag can also be displayed on Memorial Day if you have lost someone in battle or during peacetime service abroad. If your loved one died while serving with some other country's armed forces, then fly their country's flag (and ours) along with ours when appropriate!


Gold Star

The Gold Star flag is reserved for the families of service members who died while serving. It’s flown in their honor, but it can be displayed on any day, not just Memorial Day. The gold star represents that the family has lost a loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The blue field represents loyalty and devotion between military families and communities, as well as America’s sky and water elements.

Purple Heart

Military decorations such as the Purple Heart are awarded by the President to those who have died or been wounded while serving with the United States military. Wearing a purple heart on your clothing is an indication that you’re a veteran, but it also shows respect for all veterans and their sacrifices.

The Purple Heart can be awarded to members of any branch of service who are wounded by an instrumentality of war or injured in combat with an enemy force during a time of war or hostilities against an armed enemy involving U.S. personnel (the Department of Defense does not consider participation in a declared war as being against “an armed force,” so this would include participation in Operation Desert Storm). 

The Purple Heart may be awarded posthumously under certain circumstances, and civilians working with the U.S. military may also be eligible for this award if they were doing so at the time they were injured or killed by hostile action related to their duties as civilians supporting the armed forces rather than actively engaged in combat operations themselves.

Disabled Veteran Flag

The disabled veteran flag is a symbol of honor and respect. It is flown to show that a disabled veteran lives in the home.

You may see your neighbor fly this flag on Independence Day or Memorial Day as well. The red, white, and blue colors are all too common in neighborhood flags across America, but only those who have served our country can recognize the additional meaning behind this particular design. 

As you drive by houses with these flags, look at them closely! You might notice some interesting decorations below the flying colors—a service branch logo or perhaps even an American flag itself. If so, know that there's something special about that house: someone who fought for your freedom lives there!

Flags of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Air Force

If you're wondering what the flags mean, here's a quick rundown:

The United States Air Force flags are blue and have 13 white stars around an eagle, and its wings extend over a blue field.

An army flag is red with 13 white stripes with white stars on a blue rectangle in the canton. The eagle holds arrows in its talons and an olive branch in its beak.

The flag of the United States Coast Guard has 20 vertical stripes (the same as above) but with an anchor instead of eagles or arrows.

The flag of the United States Marine Corps is dark blue with one large red stripe at the top, then two thinner ones below it; below those are three smaller white stripes that connect to form another red stripe at the bottom; above this stripe are 11 five-pointed stars bordered by bright yellow triangles pointing inward toward each other, forming two concentric rings around one star that points outward toward their center point—this represents an ancient symbol called "Omnia Ab Uno." It also bears a motto that reads "Semper Fidelis," which translates roughly into English as "always faithful."

KIA Flag, Killed in Action Flag

The KIA flag is a symbol of respect for a fallen soldier and is flown at half-staff on the day of the funeral and also flown at half-staff on Memorial Day. The KIA flag has been used since 1867 and was created by an Army veteran who wanted to honor his friends who died in the Civil War.

In addition to being made of cotton, these flags are manufactured with polyester materials as well. They are available in a variety of sizes and colors, including black with white stars or blue with white stars (a more common color). These flags will come with either fringe or embroidered stars, depending on which version you choose.

Veteran flags symbolize honor, respect and remembrance.

Veteran flags symbolize honor, respect and remembrance. They are a way to recognize those who have served in the military and fought for our country’s freedom.

Veterans are often given special recognition by cities and towns during holidays like Memorial Day when they are asked to fly their flag outside of their homes as a sign of respect.

The red stripes represent valor, while black stands for integrity. White signifies purity, while blue represents justice at home and abroad. The stars stand for each state within the United States of America, which is where all veterans come from whether they served on land or sea; some served overseas while others stayed closer to home but still played their part by volunteering or working another job while fighting what they believed was right!


The veteran flags are a symbol of honor, respect and remembrance for all the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. The colors on these flags represent different branches of the military and their individual missions.

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