This issue has been on my mind for a little while. I have this outlined in my book, Exhibition Drill For The Military Drill Team, Vol II, and I really need to go over it here.
Depending on the service, there are two ways to properly mount a flag on a flagstaff. Because I say so? No, because I’ve learned through many years how a flag acts and how it is supposed to look whether carried or posted.
Glendale has been offering flags with the hook-and-pile fasteners now for a few years and thank goodness! The leather tabs wore out easily. Here is an excerpt from paradestore.com regarding one of their American flags (emphasis mine):
“They are finished with flannel-lined pole hems* and Velcro tabs and, if requested, golden yellow rayon fringe. These are very durable flags for parade use.”
*By the way, this flannel lining is going to give way eventually, you will have to sew the hook-and-pile fastener (Velcro) through the flag material to make it stay one day.
See also, Colors- the Leather Tab Issue.
Mounting the Flag on a Staff
The Army and Air Force Method is for all flags and guidons. The Velcro tab must be mounted on the flat side of the spade so that where the fringe gathers at the top of the pole hem is on the other flat side of the spade. When carried, the point where the fringe meets faces behind the color bearer. This is because when at Present Arms, all staffs are turned so that the spade is vertical. This facilitates properly posting the flag so that the flag “Diamonds” properly with the fringe is off to the right. Here is an example.
The Marine Corps Method is for all flags and guidons. This method is the opposite of the Army/AF. The Velcro tab must be mounted on the edge side of the spade so that where the fringe gathers at the top of the pole hem is on the other edge side of the spade. When carried, the point where the fringe meets faces to the left of the color bearer. This is because when at Present Arms, all staffs are turned so that the spade is vertical. Again, this facilitates properly posting the flag so that the flag “Diamonds” properly with the fringe is off to the right. Here is an example.
The Navy and Coast Guard Battle-ax and Firefighter Pike Pole Method is for all flags. Navy and Coast Guard follow the Marine Corps Method, above, for guidons. This method is unique to the battle-ax/battalion lance and the pike pole. The Velcro tab must be mounted on the back side of the finial so that where the fringe gathers at the top of the pole hem is on the blade (battle-ax) or hook (pike pole) part of the finial. When carried, the point where the fringe meets is directly beneath the blade/hook and faces forward as the color bearer marches. When posting the flag, the staff must be rotated 180-degrees so that the flag “Diamonds” properly with the fringe is off to the right and the blade/hook facing the audience. Here is an example.
Above, is the firefighter pike pole flagstaff showing the technique for mounting the Velcro-type fastener: the hook faces forward and the fastener tape is attached 180-degrees opposite the hook. The Battle-ax/Battalion Lance, pictured below, uses the same technique: fastener attached 180-degrees opposite the blade.
There are two parts to the hook-and-pile fastener, one is already partly sewn to the flag at the top and bottom of the flagstaff (pole) hem and one is sticking to it and had a glue-like backing to make it adhere to the staff. Here is how to attach that sticky-backed piece as pictured above. The arrow in the top picture points to the small hole in the hook-and-pile fastener tab where you can drill a hole and then insert a small, thin screw (about a half-inch long). The screw should stick out no more than a quarter inch. When you attach the flag, ensure the hook-and-pile fastener(s) that is sewn into the flag goes over the screw. If you are going to mount that flag at the top and bottom, which is good thinking, you need to perfectly align the tabs and ensure that the tabs and screws do not pull/stress the flag material.
The eagle finial is NOT AUTHORIZED for any military color guard, you must use the spade (Navy and CG may use the battle axe at local expense). These are flags from my church that needed some maintenance. It is for permanent display only, hence the eagle and cross. Only the light ash staff is authorized for a color guard. The gold cord and tassels are NOT AUTHORIZED for use by any military color guard.
- With the finial flat, mount the spikey velcro strip at the top. Drill a small starter hole.
- If your finial has a face, you must mount the strip at the back of the staff/finial.
- If your flag has a usable leather tab, use the screw and then wind strapping tape around the tab.
- Insert a small screw. I used screws about a half-inch long.
- Mount the flag onto the staff and place the fuzzy velcro strip around the screw.
Attaching the Cord and Tassels
A gold cord and tassels is not authorized for any military color guard. But, can be used in a static display on flags not intended to be carried. Please read this article for more information, All About the Military Color Guard.
- Loop the cord through the eye (if there is one, if not there is a special knot to use).
- bring the tassels up, under, and through the loop. Tighten the loop.
- The tassels should hang evenly.
What about flags that still have a leather tab?
Thin strapping tape is a must for you! Eventually, you may want to purchase hook-and-pile fasteners and sew them into your flag(s) at the top and bottom of the flagstaff hem.
So, what does mounting a flag like described above do?
It allows you to carry and post the flag the way it was intended. You see, the leather or hook-and-pile fastener tabs are sewn into the flagstaff hem directly across from the sew line which means that when the screws and tabs are mounted squarely so that the flag will hang as it is supposed to do with the point where the fringe meets centered on the flat spade. Like the American flag in this picture below (USAF photo):
Notice that all three flags in this picture above are not the same. That’s a no-no. The other two flags are the German and USAF.