The 187 streamers attached to the Army Flag staff denote campaigns fought by the Army throughout our nation's history. Each streamer (2 3⁄4 inches wide and 4 feet long) is embroidered with the designation of a campaign and the year(s) in which it occurred. The colors derive from the campaign ribbon authorized for service in that particular war.
The concept of campaign streamers came to prominence in the Civil War when Army organizations embroidered the names of battles on their organizational colors. This was discontinued in 1890, when units were authorized to place silver bands, engraved with the names of battles, around the staffs of their organizational colors. When AEF units in World War I were unable to obtain silver bands, General Pershing authorized the use of small ribbons bearing the names of the World War I operations. In 1921 all color-bearing Army organizations were authorized to use the large campaign streamers currently displayed.
"The Army Flag and Its Streamers" was originally prepared in August 1964 by the Office of the Chief of Military History, in cooperation with the Office of the Chief of Information, and the U.S. Army Exhibit Unit, to provide general summaries of each of the campaigns displayed on the Army flag. It was subsequently updated by the Center of Military History to add the campaigns from Vietnam. It is our hope to update the work at some time in the future to cover the missing Armed Forces Expeditions and the campaigns in Southwest Asia.
The Army flag was dedicated and unfurled to the general public on 14 June 1956 at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, on the 181st anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Army by the Continental Congress in 1775. Measuring 4 feet 4 inches by 5 feet 6 inches, the flag is of white silk with a blue embroidered central design of the original War Office seal. "United States Army" is inscribed in white letters on a scarlet scroll, with the year "1775" in blue numerals below. The Secretary of the Army designates the Army headquarters and agencies authorized an Army Flag.