This question has been on the minds of many people- I’ve been asked quite a few times and after some research I found the reason.
Please read this first: To Fringe or Not to Fringe, That is the Question.
A flag is flown from a stationary or mounted pole. Flags are never fringed.
Used in military and military-type organizations. A color is a flag carried by a color team (color guard). Colors are the flags that are fringed. Flags in a flag stand are not mounted and are therefore, called colors.
- Army, USN, USAF, USCG, USMM: Fringe on all colors carried by a color team.
- USMC: Fringe on all flags carried by a color team except the American flag/color.
- Joint Service: When the USMC is the senior service, no fringe on the American color. All other times, fringe on all colors.
Why No Fringe on the American Flag/Color
Title 4, paragraph 1 of the United States Code states:
The flag of the United States shall be thirteen horizontal stripes, alternate red and white; and the union of the flag shall be forty-eight stars, white in a blue field.
It does not mention fringe. Paragraph 3 talks about attaching anything to the flag and how that could be considered mutilation.
So, the Marine Corps is following public law as spelled out in the US Code.
So then, Why Do the Other Services Use Fringe?
While there are many conspiracies throughout the US Government that are not theories at all, the fringe and tassel do not have any merit.
The Executive Order, No.10834, signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on August 21, 1959 and printed in the Federal Register at 24 F.R. 6865, DOES NOT STATE: “A military flag is a flag that resembles the regular flag of the United States, except that it has a yellow fringe border on three sides.” THIS STATEMENT IS FALSE, it does not exist in the EO or anywhere else.