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What does a blue American flag mean?

What does a blue American flag mean?

The American flag is one of the most iconic symbols of the United States. We are all familiar with the red, white and blue design featuring 50 stars representing each of the 50 states. However, sometimes the American flag is presented in different color variations, which can carry additional meanings. One variation that sometimes causes confusion is a blue American flag. There are a few potential meanings behind a blue American flag.

Supporting Law Enforcement

One of the most common associations with a blue American flag is to show support for law enforcement. The thin blue line flag features a single blue line in the center of an otherwise black and white American flag. The thin blue line is meant to symbolize law enforcement officers holding the line between order and chaos in society. This flag gained popularity in response to the Black Lives Matter movement as a way to show solidarity with police officers. It is frequently used by Blue Lives Matter supporters.

So a completely blue American flag can also be seen as an extension of the thin blue line flag. The blue coloring represents law enforcement personnel and first responders. It shows the flag holder has pro-police views and wants to honor those who serve in these dangerous roles. Some may even see it as a political statement against police reform efforts. Either way, the blue flag is often displayed by people who want to make their support for law enforcement known.

Honoring Veterans

Another common meaning behind a blue American flag is to honor military veterans. The thin blue line can also be associated with fallen service members. So a blue flag can symbolize remembrance of those who lost their lives defending the country. It may be used at events or ceremonies commemorating veterans and current members of the armed forces.

Some may fly a blue American flag to generally show support for U.S. military efforts abroad. The blue background invokes a feeling of solidarity with troops who are actively serving overseas. It communicates pride in the military and belief in its mission.

Symbolizing Conservatism

In recent years, the color blue has become more associated with conservative political leanings. This is likely because after the 2000 presidential election, media outlets began using red states to represent Republican-voting states and blue states to represent Democrat-voting states on election maps. Though the color assignments were arbitrary, the association stuck in the public consciousness.

As a result, those on the conservative end of the political spectrum have embraced blue as their identifying color. A completely blue American flag may signal that the owner or displayer has right-leaning political views. It conveys the message that they are Republican, Libertarian, or an Independent with conservative values. The blue flag has become a kind of unofficial banner for conservative Americans in the culture war divide.

Backing the Blue Lives Matter Movement

The Blue Lives Matter movement arose a few years after Black Lives Matter emerged in response to police brutality against African Americans. While Black Lives Matter calls for reforms to policing and the criminal justice system, Blue Lives Matter advocates for keeping these systems in their current form to protect law enforcement officers.

Someone displaying a blue American flag is likely signaling support specifically for Blue Lives Matter as an organization and political movement. The blue coloring indicates opposition to the aims of Black Lives Matter and shows the owner feels the lives of police also deserve consideration. It demonstrates allegiance to the Blue Lives Matter response and its counterarguments against critiques of law enforcement.


Displaying the American flag in different color designs first became popular in the 1960s during the environmental movement. Using colors like blue and green brought attention to environmentalist political goals. Activists marching in ecology-focused demonstrations would wave these recolored flags.

So even today, some may utilize a blue flag to promote environmentalist messages. It still represents a desire to protect water resources, combat climate change, and raise awareness of various ecological issues. However, this meaning has become less common over time as blue flags now more often symbolize conservatism and support for law enforcement. But for some, the blue American flag retains its original environment-focused connotation.


Rarely, a blue American flag may be used to signify a state of mourning after tragic events involving loss of life. Just as putting the flag at half staff is a sign of collective grief, altering the flag’s normal colors to darker hues can represent sorrow. The blue shade invokes a somber feeling.

This use of the blue flag is not frequent, but it could be seen in the aftermath of disasters, terrorist attacks, or similar situations where many lives are lost at once. The blue coloring demonstrates that the nation is in a period of mourning. However, the traditional black armbands are more common for showing grief than changing the flag’s colors.

Other Group Identity Symbols

While support for law enforcement and conservatism are the most well-known associations with blue American flags, some other organizations and subcultures have also adopted the blue flag to convey membership or affiliation. For example:

  • Blue Lives Matter supporters
  • Conservative Americans
  • Environmental activists
  • Military veterans
  • Supporters of Blue Lives Matter organization
  • Supporters of law enforcement

So if you see a blue American flag displayed, consider the context to interpret the intended meaning. But most commonly, it will signify pro-police views, mourning fallen officers, pride in the armed forces, or an expression of conservative political values. The blue coloring transforms the flag into a specialized symbol particular groups now use to signal their identities and ideals.

No Disrespect Intended

It is also worth noting that the decision to alter the flag’s traditional red, white and blue colors is not necessarily meant as disrespect. Groups like Blue Lives Matter supporters and military veterans displaying a blue flag are still intending to show pride in America. The different color is just a way to highlight a specific viewpoint or commemorate a distinct subset of Americans.

Of course, some more traditionalist Americans argue that any deviation from the standard flag design and colors shows disrespect. But most people using a blue variation do not see it as a desecration. They consider themselves proud, patriotic citizens. The blue shading simply allows them to broadcast a particular message or affiliation.

Legality of Altered American Flags

There are no laws prohibiting flying an American flag in different colors, or adding symbols and designs to it. The First Amendment right to free speech protects artistic expressions like altered flags. There have been some unsuccessful attempts to make changed flag designs illegal. But so far, courts have ruled modifications are a form of free expression protected by the Constitution.

The federal flag code which outlines proper flag etiquette does state that the flag’s colors should never be altered. However, the Supreme Court ruled this code is advisory and does not carry any punishments. So flying a blue American flag or other altered design is not illegal as long as it does not directly incite imminent criminal action.

How Common Are Blue American Flags?

It is hard to pinpoint exactly how prevalent blue American flags are compared to the standard red, white and blue design. Their use rose in popularity after 2000 as they became a symbol of conservatism. But they are almost certainly still far less common than regular flags.

Some surveys suggest about 13% of Americans now display a flag at their home or on their car. Of those flags, blue versions are probably only a small percentage. However, they are widely recognizable and their specific connotations are well-known. So even as a fairly niche item, they have an outsized cultural significance.

Confusion With Other Flags

A blue American flag may sometimes get mistaken for other similar flags. For example:

  • The thin blue line flag
  • A historical Grand Union flag design from the Revolutionary War era
  • The Israeli flag

The thin blue line flag just features a single blue stripe, while a blue American flag has a whole blue background. The Grand Union flag was proposed early in American history with a blue field and stars, alternating with 13 red and white stripes.

And the Israeli flag has a similar blue background. But it displays a centered Star of David rather than 50 stars. Making sure you recognize the 50 stars on the blue background is the key way to identify the blue American flag.

Flying a Blue American Flag

Those who want to display a blue American flag can purchase ready-made versions from many flag vendors. Looking for a “thin blue line American flag” will produce options with a completely blue background rather than just one blue stripe.

Of course, you can also take a standard American flag and dye it blue using fabric dye. This may produce a more muted, pastel shade of blue compared to the bold tones of commercially made flags. It also runs the risk ofIncorrectly applying dye and damaging the flag’s design. But it can be a cheaper option.

When flying a blue American flag, make sure to take safety precautions and display it properly. Don’t fly it in severe weather where it could get damaged or peel the dye. And make sure to illuminate it well at night just like any flag. Following proper flag etiquette demonstrates your respect for what it symbolizes.


While the classic red, white and blue American flag is familiar to all, altered versions in different color schemes have emerged over the years to highlight various causes and show support for particular groups. The blue American flag is one popular alternative, now widely associated with pro-police views, conservatism, and mourning fallen first responders and troops. This adaptation of a revered national symbol allows citizens to broadcast their values and loyalties. While some argue altering the colors is disrespectful, most who fly the blue American flag do so with great patriotic pride and appreciation for its deeper significance. Whether you agree with the practice or not, it is important to understand the nuanced meaning behind the blue flag.