Flag Fringe and Finial Theory

DrillMasterColor Guard/Color Team, DrillCenter News, Honor Guard 18 Comments

Before we get into the Fringe Theory, let’s all just take a deep breath and not get reactionary. Completely dismissing or wrapping yourself around the axle into this theory without due consideration of the facts is not going to do anyone any good.

I know. Conspiracy theories! Wacko! Tin-foil hat-wearing fool! Yada-yada-yada. If you are not open minded or already know everything, please move along.

I’m not writing this to offer complete answers, just bring out information. I don’t know if we can have definite answers to the myriad of possible questions.

UPDATE: This Web page here has nothing but false information and yet it is being shared as if it is packed full of truth. It talks about the “military flag” that has fringe. There is no such flag and Pres. Eisenhower’s Executive Order does not have that language in it nor does the US Code regarding the flag. It’s all nonsense.

The Theories

  1. Fringe on the flag defaces it and suspends the Constitution.
  2. The gold cord and tassels adds to the defacement.
  3. State flags are also defaced by adding gold colored fringe (I don’t know if that applies to any other color).
  4. The finial has something to do with signaling a court is not following Constitutional law but admiralty or court martial law.
  5. Flag size other than the 1:1.9 ratio suspends the Constitution.

The Flag Code

The Flag Code is part of public law, it sets the standards. Since it is public law (all caps: 4 U.S. Code CHAPTER 1—THE FLAG), I trust house.gov website and no one else, really. There is too much assumption everywhere else.

Let me be clear: the average guy or gal can read a paragraph of the Flag Code and still be perplexed at the meaning of the words just read. But, let’s do the best we can here.

In addition to the Flag Code are at least two Presidential Executive Orders that are included in the website I linked to above. For example, Executive Order 10834, signed by President Eisenhower on July 4, 1960, adds the star for the Hawai’ian Islands, gives the dimensions the flag in great detail, and revoked Executive Order 10798.


Hoist (width) of flag 1.0
Fly (length) of flag 1.9
Hoist (width) of Union 0.5385 ( 7/13)
Fly (length) of Union 0.76
Diameter of star 0.0616
Width of stripe 0.0769 ( 1/13)

However, it also states that minor changes can be made to the national flag or union jack. FYI, the Jack of the United States/Union Jack is a maritime flag displayed at the bow on the jack staff of a vessel only when moored or anchored.

(a) The Secretary of Defense in respect of procurement for the Department of Defense (including military colors) and the Administrator of General Services in respect of procurement for executive agencies other than the Department of Defense may, for cause which the Secretary or the Administrator, as the case may be, deems sufficient, make necessary minor adjustments in one or more of the dimensions or proportionate dimensions prescribed by this order, or authorize proportions or sizes other than those prescribed by section 3 or section 21 of this order.

EO 10834, Sec. 24 (emphasis mine

Flag Sizes

There are specific sizes stipulated in the Flag Code but the EO mentioned above give the authority for the DoD to make adjustments. Why that would be necessary, I don’t know, but it’s there.

Authorized flag sizes
The flag with gold fringe and cord and tassels

Military Flag and Color Guard Flagstaff Sizes

The US Army, Air Force and Space Force display and carry 3′ x 4′ flags on eight foot staffs and 4’4″ x 5’6″ flags on 9’6″ staffs. The army can also attach the smaller flag to the taller staff. The Air Force authorizes 7′ staffs but only for posting colors indoors and at no other time.

The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard display and carry 4’4″ x 5’6″ flags on 9’6″ staffs only.

Fringe and the Cord and Tassels

Merely an affectation?

The theory is that the gold fringe defaces the flag of the United States of America suspends the Constitution. I’m not so quick to make that conclusion, but I do understand how this thinking came about.

A Brief History of Fringe

According to DeVaughn Simper, a respected member in the vexillology community and a vexillologist for Colonial Flag of Sandy Utah, provided me with an interesting aspect of the original use of fringe, as far as the American flag is concerned.

Fringe was attached to the flag because it created static electricity and attracted dirt keeping the flag itself clean longer.

Perfectly reasonable.

An even More Brief History of the Cord and Tassels

The cord and tassels were used to tie the flag after it was furled (wrapped around the staff) and stored. When the flag was unfurled for display or to be carried, the place to store the cord was to tie it around the top of the staff just below the finial.

For the military, the gold cord and tassels is not authorized in any display nor for a color guard. However, the red, white, and blue twisted cord and tassels is authorized specifically for the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard (see MCO 10520.3, AR 840-10 also mentions the RW&B cord).

Again, perfectly reasonable.

The difference in flags is the ONLY reason I am sharing this image

That was Then, This is Now

The cord and tassels is not necessary. Keeping it as a traditional/historic reference, I can definitely understand. Most likely the gold colored cord is there because the color matches the fringe. The red, white, and blue cord and tassels is required on all national colors for the Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard (MCO 5060.20). I prefer this tri-colored cord and tassels, referred to as a rope and tassels by the Marine Corps.

§8. Respect for flag
(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

Flag Code

Fringe could be described as a figure or possibly a design. Don’t attach anything to the flag. There is no argument that is acceptable for fringe that I can see.

Nowhere in the Flag Code is fringe authorized to be attached to it anymore (this is the key here). It’s not necessary since we do not carry it into battle anymore, which would require creating something to keep it clean.

For information on star size, read here.

AR 840-10 and MCO 5060.2

Army Regulation 840-10, Flags, Guidons, Streamers, Tabards, and Automobile and Aircraft Plates, provides guidance for the US Army regarding every kind of flag the service uses. In it is information about fringe.

1 – 6. Materials
Flags designed primarily for indoor and parade display [DM- these flags are called Indoor/Outdoor flags] will normally be made of banner rayon or heavyweight nylon with rayon fringe. Those designed primarily for outdoor display will be made of nylon-wool or heavyweight nylon without fringe [DM- these flags are called Outside flags].

AR 840-10 (emphasis mine)

(a) 12-inch hoist by 18-inch fly, of approved material, trimmed on three sides with fringe 1 1/2 inches wide. This flag is to be displayed with the individual automobile flag of the President and Vice President of the United States.

AR 840-10 (emphasis mine)

Fringe and Flag Sizes

b. National flags listed below are for indoor display and for use in ceremonies and parades. For these purposes, the flag of the United States will be of rayon banner cloth or heavyweight nylon, trimmed on three sides with golden yellow fringe, 2 1/2 inches wide. It will be the same size or larger than other flags displayed or carried at the same time.
(1) 4-foot 4-inch hoist by 5-foot 6-inch fly. This size flag will be displayed with the U.S. Army flag, organizational flag of ACOMs, positional colors (table 3 – 1), the Corps of Cadets’ color, the 1st Battalion, 3d Infantry color, the 4-foot 4-inch by 5-foot 6-inch chapel flag and the individual flag of a general of the Army.
(2) 3-foot hoist by 4-foot fly. This size flag will be displayed with the Army Field flag, distinguishing flags, organizational colors, and institutional flags of the same size. It will also be displayed within the offices listed in c below when no other positional or organizational flags are authorized.

AR 840-10 (emphasis and notes mine)

Now, why would the Army just ignore the Flag Code when the Marine Corps specifically forbids fringe on the national flag?

MCO 5060.20, Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies

p. The use of gold fringe on the U.S. Flag is expressly forbidden
for Marine Corps organizations.

MCO 5060.20 (emphasis mine)

Gold-colored fringe is required on all service departmental, organizational, and positional colors for all branches of the US military.

The Finial

Also called an ornament, It’s the device at the top of a flagpole (outside) or a flagstaff (indoor display or carried by a color guard). There are many finials to choose from. Here is the guidance. This section has many photos in it, if you are on a mobile device.

Below, where NTP 13B, Flags, Pennants, Honors, Ceremonies, and Customs, is referenced, the information applies only to the US Navy and Coast Guard. All of the Navy finials are interchangeable with small screws.

Here, you can see where each finial screws into the truck. I’m holding the upper ferrule.

Spread Eagle

Note- This is different from a Landing Eagle and a Flying Eagle. Many look like a plucked chicken anyway. I don’t know if the direction the eagle is looking toward matters.

(NTP 13B) It is for civilian officials and flag officers whose official gun salute is 19 or more guns. This includes such individuals as the President and Vice President, Secretaries of State, Defense, Army, Navy, Air Force; Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, State Governors, and Service Chiefs. Tables of gun salutes of military officers and civil officials are contained in Chapter 10, U.S. Navy Regulations.”

AR 840-10 state the spread eagle is only for presidential staffs. You will see the Presidential Color Guard most often at the inauguration parade. This team carries the National, Presidential, and Vice-Presidential Colors on 10′ staffs. The President and Vice-president’s colors are positional colors and receive fringe. Since the Army is the senior service, a Soldier carried the National Color and it has fringe.

Presidential Color Guard


Also from NTP 13B and for the Navy and Coast Guard only. It is “for flag officers whose official gun salute is less than 19 guns, and for civil officials whose gun salute is 11 or more but less than 19 guns. Included in this category are such individuals as the Under and Assistant Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force; Naval or Military Governors; and flag officers of the Armed Forces other than those of 5-star rank or Service Chiefs.”

See the photo below of MCPO (Ret) Mark Hacala, DrillMaster003, the Ceremonial Specialist for the US Navy Ceremonial Guard at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. The halberd is in his left hand (picture’s right).


This is for Army (AR 840-10) outdoor wall mounted flags for advertising or recruiting and NTP 13B states, “For officers of the grade or equivalent grade of Captain in the Navy, and for such diplomatic officials as Career Ministers, Consuls, or First Secretary of an Embassy or Legation.” It’s the standard finial for outdoor flagpoles. Read more about the ball here.

The USAF actually used the ball for color guards but it has not been authorized for use in decades- if you are still using it, stop.

See the photo below of MCPO (Ret) Mark Hacala. He is holding the halberd and battle-ax finials. Imagine, if you will, the ball alone without the rest of the ornament.



(NTP 13B) For officers of the grade or equivalent grade of Commander in the Navy. This is also the required finial for the Texas flag.

Certain states have specific finials, Fleur-de-Lis (optional for LA) and Botany Cross (required for MD), and even flag fold techniques.

Flat Truck

(NTP 13B) For officers below the grade or equivalent grade of Commander in the Navy, and for civil officials for whom honors are prescribed on the occasions of an official visit, but are not the equivalent of those officials listed above. The truck is the flat part of the upper ferrule of a flagstaff. That’s where the finial screws into.

In the photo below, DrillMaster003 is holding a Halberd Finial in his left hand. Below his index and middle fingers is the flat piece where the finial screws into the upper ferrule. That flat piece of the upper ferrule is called the truck. Remove the finial and you have the Flat Truck.

MCPO (Ret) Mark Hacala

Battle-ax/Battalion Lance

This is used by the Navy and Coast Guard as their standard finial for color guard when working within that service or jointly together. When working with another service the flat, silver Army Spearhead must be used.

In the photo above of MCPO (Ret) Mark Hacala, he is holding the battle-ax in his right hand.

All of the Navy finials mentioned are local purchase only. If they are not deemed necessary for the expenditure of funds, the Army Spearhead is always used.


Army Spearhead/Spade

AR 840-10, MCO 5060.20, and AFI 34-1201, Protocol, all state that the flat, silver spearhead is the only finial authorized for color guard and flagstaffs.

Roman Spear

Spike, spire, cone, flat- there are many variations to these finials and like the Army Spearhead, they are all derived from ancient pole arms: spears.

The Theories Summed Up

  1. Fringe on the flag defaces it and suspends the Constitution.
    • There isn’t any proof that the Constitution is suspended. Fringe on the modern national or state flag is not necessary. One hundred years ago, it was, but not anymore. I suggest that fringe not be attached to American flags.
  2. The gold cord and tassels adds to the defacement.
    • I don’t appreciate the gold colored cord, I much prefer red, white, and blue. However, just like the fringe, I cannot definitively say there is any meaning behind it.
  3. State flags are also defaced by adding gold colored fringe.
    • I know of nothing at the state level that allows fringe to be attached to any state’s flag. Unless specifically authorized by each state government, it should not be attached. I suggest that fringe also not be attached to state, county, or city flags.
    • Fringe should also not be attached to any foreign national flags that your unit may be required to keep on hand. Some countries forbid fringe, others have very long fringe in different colors. The Old Guard in Washington DC carries all foreign national flags without fringe when foreign dignitaries visit.
  4. The finial has something to do with signaling a court is not following Constitutional law but admiralty or court martial (military) law.
    • This doesn’t make sense. All finials used in the US have some sort of history and there is nothing specific to a meaning except the purposes noted above that I can find.
  5. Flag size other than the 1:1.9 ratio suspends the Constitution.
    • There is nothing that I have found that supports this. Especially with the EO stating that changes can be made when deemed necessary. Apparently they were necessary for the US military with the 3′ x 4′ and 4’4″ x 5’6″ flags being authorized for display and to be carried by a color guard along with the outdoor flag sizes.

The Corporation of the United States

Let’s add another fact to this to help with the possible confusion.

On February 21, 1871 with no constitutional authority to do so, Congress created a separate form of government for the District of Columbia, a ten mile square parcel of land (see, Acts of the Forty-first Congress,” Section 34, Session III, chapters 61 and 62). From https://www.federaljack.com/slavery-by-consent-the-united-states-corporation/. This created the United States, Inc. As a corporation there are all kinds of different rules for a business verses a country.

Notice that when you read the Flag Code, certain statements only pertain to those living in the District of Columbia not to anyone else. A “US Citizen” is one who is based in the District of Columbia and subject to those laws. It’s a deep rabbit hole, but well worth it to onvestigate.


I don’t have one, specifically. I still have questions. However, I am much more inclined to follow the guidance of the Flag Code and the Marine Corps Order and not have fringe attached to the American flag/National Color. Flag size and finial type do not have an impact on anything as far as I can tell.

If you have any documented information to add in a positive manner to to dispute the information above, I welcome it.

Comments 18

  1. It was once explained to me by an old English sailor that fringed flags were an unnoficial way of displaying captured flags. Not necessarily by any formal law or code, but by tradition dating back to the days of pirates and conquest. A pirate would take the flag of a conquered ship, sew a fringe on it, then fly it low and aft of their ships main flag as a means of bragging of their conquest and taunting enemies. The most seasoned & formidable ships could have a mizzen or backstay dressed clear full of various fringed flags, with the primary ship’s flag flying high & forward, either above the bow or on the main depending on sailplan.

    Have you ever heard of this before? Interesting theory, but no idea if there is any truth or standing to this. Even if so, not sure that would mean anything regarding the current usage of fringed American flags, as there are specific codes calling for use of a fringe in those cases. It would though, seem quite the embarrassing practice to do to your own flag if true.

    1. Post

      I’ve not heard this before and, according to vexillologist DeVaughn Simper, it’s a myth.

      Fringe was used to keep dirt away from the silk because it would generate static electricity.


    2. Post

      Update for you as to how the myth came about.

      It’s a misinterpretation. Flags are usually really tatterd after a major battle and captured flags are never repaired so it appears to be fringed. They are then surrendered to the sovereign or fleet comodore for a bounty.

    3. Yes, I read this some time ago, and have been looking for corroboration since. What I read was it was British maritime law (not just pirates) dating back to somthing like the 1400’s. I would like to find more on this.

  2. In the process of surfing the web for more information about this topic, I ran into the website for a fabric company that claims to be the only company authorized to make the fringe specifically for the Presidential flag, which they say is made from alternating gold and silver threads, as opposed to the bright gold fringe seen on other U.S. flags. Name of the company is Triaxial Structures, Inc. located in PA, website is triaxial.us

    From their website:

    “Presidential Flag Fringe

    TSI is currently the sole weaver of the specialty flag fringe used exclusively on the U.S. Presidential Flag. This unique construction is significantly different from the bright yellow fringe appearing on the “Stars and Stripes”.

    Woven with metalic gold and silver yarn, hand manipulated during weaving with each individual fringe tassel hand knotted after weaving, it reproduces the original fringe as designed in 1898. All materials and fringe are produced in the US.”

    (They show a close-up photo of the Presidential fringe vs a non-Presidential fringe but I can’t get the photo to copy over)

    1. Post
  3. I just watched a video today with Biden and the flag behind him had a red and white cord with several rungs almost like a noose. There was no blue color in the cord that I could see and it didn’t look like the red white and blue cord used by pres and vp. What’s up with that?

    1. Post

      Thank you for the question.

      It seems that some White House team members in charge of setting up for a President are less than accurate when following flag protocol. I might even go so far as to say some could not care less. The cord and tassels should be a twisted red, white, and blue.

      I couldn’t tell you any more than that.

      Edit: Comments do not automatically post. I have full control at the back end of the website to allow posts through for others to see.

    2. Used Flags today with the red and white cord, while Biden addressing the country due to the California Bank Closure Mar 13. First time I’ve noticed them, but don’t look at Mainstream Media all that much.

  4. I read the passages about fringe on the U.S. flag, and they seem to go back and forth as to whether it is or is not allowed. There’s one section where he first says this: “For the military, the gold cord and tassels is not authorized in any display nor for a color guard.” And the very next sentence is this: “However, the red, white, and blue twisted cord and tassels is authorized specifically for the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard (see MCO 10520.3, AR 840-10 also mentions the RW&B cord).”

    Those two sentences contradict one another. The first sentences decrees NO to the fringe; the second sentence decrees YES to the fringe for certain brances.

    Later, it says, “The red, white, and blue cord and tassels is required on all national colors for the Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard (MCO 5060.20).” And later, it says this: “MCO 5060.20, Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies… p. The use of gold fringe on the U.S. Flag is expressly forbidden for Marine Corps organizations.”

    Here, in one place it says fringe is REQUIRED, and later EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN.

    I’m confused and would love clarification. Especially since we come out to the Golden Bear Drill Meet each year, and in years past we’ve gotten dinged for not comporting with DM standards in your book.

    Thank you.

    1. Post

      Lt Col Richmond,

      None of what I have written here is a contradiction. Unfortunately, each service has created its own requirements and we have to do extensive research to understand those different requirements.
      You are USAF, and that requires your color guard to have gold fringe on all flags. The gold cord and tassels is forbidden. Army follows the same standard.

      The Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard are forbidden from displaying and carrying the American flag with fringe. However, they must have the red, white, and blue cord and tassels attached to that staff.


  5. Do you have a website where I can find a flag staff with the Army Spade and ceremonial U.S. flag for a color guard team that does not have the gold fringe.

    1. Post
  6. : Russell-Jay: Gould owns the rights to the Title IV 1 1.9 American Flag. He saved the Republic in 1999 by disqualifying the agreement we had to revert back to England’s rule by using Quantum Grammar and correct parse syntax sentence structure. 1999 was our third and final bankruptcy deadline to pay off England, and we failed. Anyone remember what happened during the Bush v Gore election? And how it was delayed for weeks? And which state volunteered for this corruption? Florida… who was the Governor of Florida back then? You guessed it, Jeb Bush. The plan all along was for us to secretly be absorbed back to the English Crown. But: Russell captured the flag and immediately registered it with the UN and therefore… making him the chief of the US Republic. He is also the Post Master General of the world using the same grammar technology.
    What we have seen since that 1999 election fraud has all been a facade. Our country is not a Republic. Smart people call us a democracy… and I’m sure they’re fully aware that we used to be a Republic.
    So if it’s not the Title IV 1 1.9 flag, there is no constitutional protection… no bill of rights. Judges know this. You have to agree to partake in this fraudulent system and form a contract. The flag with yellow fringe is a Maritime/Admiralty flag (law of the sea), no constitutional protections. We used to live in civil/common law (Land) which gave us the protections of the constitution. You know how you agree to contract with this fraudulent system? A judge asks you to verify your name. When you say “yes”, it’s over for you. You have made contract with the fraud.
    My website is FromFictionToFact.com
    Also, watch the film at LastFlagStanding.com
    I hope this helps every person reading.

  7. Hello! I have a question that doesnt pertain to this topic and I apologize for it being in the wrong place as I was having trouble finding a proper forumn for it.
    In regards to my question: What is the best course of action to take, when there are multiple members complaining about the same person for their treatment towards others?
    For context this is a high school armed drill team.
    Any help would be appreciated
    and once again Id like to apologize for this question being on the wrong topic post!

    1. Post

      Your team leadership needs to sit down and talk. Clear communication is the key.

      Whoever is bring inappropriate needs to be counseled. But, you need to start with, “How are things at home? How are you doing in school? Did you know that there are complaints about how you treat others? This needs to stop because it’s hurting the morale of the team. That makes the team less effective and that’s not good.” Something like that.
      There should be a chain of command: commander, deputy commander, and squad/element leaders.
      If the leadership is unable to handle the situation, then you need to ask one or both of your instructors to attend the next meeting.
      Let me know how it goes.

  8. Thank you for your research and insight; I am as confused as ever but it’s absolutely no fault of yours.

    Just an FYI, that “Federal Jack” website has been suspended (because of course it has) by the Commies at WordPress since Patriotism has become such a dangerous thing to the unfathomable number of disgusting Swamp Donkeys and traitors to America in our midst. This site published the article in what appears (at a glance) to be its complete, original, unedited form:

    Thanks again and I do have a question re: your photo of 45 and President Obama:
    What is the “epic troll”?

    On a normal day I’d catch it but right now I’m running on:
    • no sleep since 11/3/2020;
    • a last meal around 0300 at least four 0300s ago;
    • eyes filled with black sand, dust bunnies and woofies from under the bed;
    • a brain that ceased function two impeachments and one USA, Inc. ago

    I’d sure appreciate any hints you deign to provide – spelled out in plain English, please.

    [And YES, I am in SuperB*tch mode but again: absolutely no fault of yours – I just can’t contain it anymore. Do you know where I can get a US flag emoji that’s flying upside down?
    Asking for a friend.]

    1. Post

      Hello Ma’am,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I did not know that the text of the photo was still there, I downloaded it from Instagram, did not double check it, and apologize. I’ll remove it right away. In the meantime, the “troll” is that every head of state before President Trump had fringed flags displayed behind him all the time. Plus, there is no presidential seal on the podium. This was supposedly a signal to everyone as to what was coming: the doing away with the US, Inc and a return to the USA, the Republic.

      As for the distress flag emoji, please tell your 80 million friends that I don’t know where to get one. Until one is found, we must pray for our leaders at all times.


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