Difference Between Official Military Department Flags and Novelty Military Flags

DrillMasterColor Guard, Color Guard/Color Team, DrillCenter News Leave a Comment

This article will help you understanding the difference between official military departmental flags and novelty military flags.

Flags have always played a significant role in the military. They serve as symbols of unity, identity, and honor, representing the values and traditions of a nation’s armed forces. While the official military department flags are well-recognized and carry historical significance, novelty military flags that veterans fly to show their pride in their service have gained popularity in recent years as a means of celebrating military service and identity. When planning events, displays, or even purchasing color guard equipment, it is critical to understand the differences between official military department flags and novelty military/service pride flags, shedding light on their respective roles and significance.

Official Military Department Flags

Official military department flags are the authorized flags representing various branches of a nation’s armed forces. These flags hold a solemn and historical significance and are used in official ceremonies, parades, and other formal military events. The key characteristics of these flags include:

  1. Design Consistency: Official military department flags adhere to strict design and color standards, ensuring uniformity and respect for tradition. For instance, the United States military branches (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard) have distinct, standardized flags with specific emblems and colors that come in very specific sizes.
  2. Historic Significance: These flags have a rich history and often trace their origins back to the founding of the armed forces or their predecessor organizations. They are deeply rooted in tradition and carry the weight of their service’s history and sacrifices.
  3. Solemn Use: Official military department flags are reserved for formal and solemn occasions such as military funerals, retirement ceremonies, and official parades. They symbolize the seriousness and honor associated with military service.
  4. Government Authorization: The design and use of these flags is governed by regulations and laws. Unauthorized use or modification of these flags is generally prohibited. The DOD and each department have established clear regulations which describe the proper proportions, design elements, sizes, and usage.

The “real”, authorized flags of the US military. The Space Force flag is the only one different here to show you what an Indoor/Outdoor flag looks like. It has a staff sleeve and fringe. All service flags must have fringe that is gold in color, but the SF is the only one that requires fringe that is silver in color (more grey than true silver).

Novelty Military Flags

Novelty military pride flags, on the other hand, have gained popularity in recent years, serving as a more personal expressive form of honoring military service and identity. These flags are characterized by:

  1. Diverse Designs: Novelty military flags come in a wide variety of designs, often incorporating personal or unit-specific elements, such as custom insignia, slogans, or other symbols.
  2. Personal Expression: These flags are created to allow individuals to express their pride, support, or affiliation with the military. They can be customized to include the names of specific units, military branches, or personal messages.
  3. Inclusivity: They are often used by military families, veterans, and supporters of the armed forces. They promote recognition of the sacrifices made by military personnel.
  4. Non-Official: Unlike official military department flags, novelty military pride flags are not authorized by the government or military branches. They are not used in formal ceremonies and are not subject to the same strict regulations.

These flags contain logos, more or less. The Navy flag might look like the authorized version, but it’s dimensions are off. This USAF flag contains the AF Emblem.

None of these flags are authorized to be carried by military personnel.


Official military department flags and novelty military pride flags serve distinct purposes and have different roles within the realm of military symbolism. The official flags represent the traditions and history of the armed forces, carrying a solemn and regulated significance. In contrast, novelty military pride flags provide a personal means of expression, enabling individuals to celebrate their connection to the military in a more customized and inclusive manner.

It is important to recognize the differences between these two types of flags to avoid any misunderstanding or misuse of official military symbols. While both types of flags have their place, it is essential to respect the traditions associated with official military department flags and to use novelty military pride flags as a means of personal expression and support for the military community.

This article was written by DeVaughn Simper, Vexillologist. Find him on social media: @professorflagg.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *