What Does the American Flag With a Red Stripe Mean?

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With the freedom of speech in modern America, the amount of flags representing social and political movements can be hard to keep track of. You might have seen various iterations of the American flag floating around, with one coloured stripe or another, leaving you wondering what it’s all about. So what exactly is the red stripe or red line flag?

Find out what the red stripe flag is all about and support your community with our flags, banners and signage at BestFlag.

What Does the Red Stripe Flag Look Like?

As the name suggests, this flag is a black and white variation of the American Flag featuring a singular red stripe. The usually red and white stripes instead alternate black and white, with the red stripe just under the fifty state stars. There is also a similar variation of this, which is simplified to a single red line amongst a plain black background.

The History of the American Red Stripe Flag

There are a few theories as to how this flag originated but the most common of which involves War time. In 1854, forces of the British empire found themselves the second and last line of defense during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War. When defenses ahead of them fell, they organized themselves into a two-row deep firing line – soon causing their enemy to turn back.

A reporter in The Times newspaper later described the British firing line as a thin red streak tipped with steel, as the only thing between the enemy and British camp. Over time, this turned into a figure of speech, where a ‘thin red line’ (or stripe) meant a thinly spread defense unit.

This also started the creation of the blue line flag which was used to show support for police enforcement. The blue line was a term coined metaphorically for police keeping society from spiralling into unlawful chaos. Several similar flags for other departments followed in suit, each with a different coloured stripe to represent the organization.

 red striped flag

What Does the American Flag With a Red Stripe Mean?

Considering its history, the red stripe or red line flag was developed to show support and solidarity for fire service personnel. It’s also used as a form of remembrance to honor injured or fallen firefighters. The flag with a red line is essentially used by civilians and fellow firefighters as a sign of respect and a gratitude.

This red stripe is also borrowed from ‘the red line of courage’, the red line on an all-black background. Despite their difference in meaning, some still use the flags interchangeably. 

The Controversy Over the Thin Red Stripe Flag

The main controversy comes from a lack of understanding or the view that the American flag simply shouldn’t be altered. However, the red stripe flag has also gotten a bad rep by association with the similar blue line flag of police. Regardless of opinion on the police force, it’s important to note that the flags are different despite their similarities in design.

On a positive note, most choose to view these flags as a symbol of solidarity and support for firefighters and general public safety in the community. This is why you’ve likely spotted the flag in the community or at your local fire station.

Purchase a Thin Red Stripe Flag

Showing your support and solidarity through proud flag bearing is a great way to be a supporter for others in the community. Flags, banners and signage have been used for centuries as a form of peaceful activism for all kinds of societies. Whether it’s a red stripe flag or another movement altogether, find a cause you resonate with at our BestFlag online store.


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