Thin Blue Line Flag: What Does It Mean?

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Thin Blue Line Flag: What Does It Mean?

These days, you can hardly turn anywhere on the Internet without someone having an opinion on police officers and the alleged violence against minorities. The BLM riots over the last year have increasingly forced people to take sides in this ideological conflict.

For those who know the truth – that police officers serve us well every day and are a necessary force in society – the Thin Blue Line flag has become a symbol of resistance against rioters and anarchists. But what exactly does the Thin Blue Line flag mean, and when should you fly it?

We can answer both of those questions and more for you below.

What Is the Thin Blue Line Flag? 

The Thin Blue Line flag is a unique variation on a typical American flag. It’s mostly used to show support for police officers and law enforcement personnel, but it can also be used to support other types of emergency responders, such as paramedics, social workers, and doctors/nurses.

The Thin Blue Line flag was created relatively recently. The first sighting of this flag was sometime in the last few years, and no one knows who the original creator of the flag was.

However, we do know its design – you’ve probably seen it on patriotic websites and apparel yourself. It’s essentially a black and white American flag featuring all 50 stars on a black field. The only color on the flag is a thin blue line that takes the place of the regular red line right underneath the starfield.

There are other variations of the “main” Thin Blue Line flag. Some of them may feature more iconography associated with police departments, such as badges or guns. But this design is the most common one you’ll see out in public.

Meaning of the Thin Blue Line

The meaning of the Thin Blue Line flag is fairly simple. It’s a flag designed to show public support for law enforcement personnel in a time when social attitudes are increasingly turning against the police officers who keep us safe from criminals.

Origins of the Imagery

The blue line is thought to initially be derived from a historical event, during which a red-coated Scottish Regiment, serving the British Army, stood against repeated Russian attacks in the Crimean War. This battle took place in 1854 and was so famous that it became associated with a Lord Tennyson poem called “Charge of the Light Brigade.”

In the poem, the British defenders are described as a “thin red line.” This was later adapted into a thin blue line as Scottish people moved to the United States and increasingly joined the police force, which was one of the main jobs open to them in that era.

What the Flag Means Today

So the Thin Blue Line flag stands for a similar feeling: that of a brave force standing down attackers while significantly outnumbered. We all know that criminals outnumber our brave policemen and women, and the thin blue line represents their barrier of solidarity and courage. Some people also believe the stars to be representative of the citizens that our police force protects.

While some politicians try to use the Thin Blue Line imagery to get them votes, in reality, the Thin Blue Line is now a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping law enforcement officers and their families.

The flag stands for so much more than just political division. It stands for solidarity and support for police officers and allows individuals to get behind a cause that should be universally agreed upon as a good thing.

However, what the Thin Blue Line flag really means is up to you. Bottom line: it’s a patriotic flag that you can fly when you want to show your support for our police forces, especially when liberals or other groups decide to criticize them unnecessarily.

How and When to Display the Thin Blue Line Flag

Like the regular American flag, there are lots of great times when you should fly the Thin Blue Line flag. It’s most commonly used during times when increased police support is necessary, but you can also fly it regularly alongside your main American flag to show your patriotism. 

Appropriate times for displaying this flag include:

  • On police holidays, particularly in your state or area
  • When an officer dies in the line of duty
  • When leftists attack our police forces 
  • When asked to by a government official

You should also observe other flag protocol rules, such as flying the flag at half-mast when an important government official dies or when a police officer dies in the line of duty.

Furthermore, you should only ever fly your Thin Blue Line flag beneath your national flag. It should never be flown above the national flag, as the official United States flag is the most important in the country.

Can Civilians Fly a Thin Blue Line Flag?

Absolutely. The police are not the only group allowed to fly a Thin Blue Line flag, especially since it technically isn’t an official United States government flag. So there aren’t any rules against who can and cannot fly this patriotic banner.

However, you should always try to fly a Thin Blue Line flag respectfully and not abuse its symbolism. Having the Thin Blue Line flag on your shirts or other apparel can be a good idea so long as you treat that apparel well and don’t use them to disrespect the flag and what it represents.

Police officers always support civilians who fly the Thin Blue Line flag. It’s an unequivocal statement of solidarity with the brave men and women who keep our streets safe from criminals and others who decide that the laws don’t apply to them.

In addition to flying a regular flag, you can put the Thin Blue Line symbol on your bumper as a sticker or on plaques and similar surfaces. Fly this flag everywhere you can, and don’t be dissuaded by people who may give you dirty looks.

How to Care for a Thin Blue Line Flag

Since the Thin Blue Line flag isn’t an official government flag, like the national flag or a state government flag, there aren’t any official rules about how to care for it. However, you can follow the same proper flag respect rules used for our national flag just to be safe.

For example:

  • When folding a Thin Blue Line flag, try to fold it into a triangular shape with the starfield visible on the top. The resulting folded flag should look like a tricorn hat. This is the respectful way to fold the national flag, and it will also suit the police flag.

  • You should only burn the Thin Blue Line flag when it has become tattered beyond repair. To do so, make a fire big enough that it burns the flag entirely and bury the ashes in a respectful place.

  • Wash the flag using a cold cycle in a conventional washer to avoid bleeding, or hand wash the flag to be extra safe. 

What to Do if Someone Challenges This Flag

Naturally, flying a flag like this in such politically charged times can get people to confront you about your allegiance. Of course, you don’t have anything to worry about since you’re just showing your allegiance to the uniformed officers of our police force.

But people may challenge you nonetheless. These days, there’s lots of misinformation going around, particularly in the online sphere. Many leftists will genuinely (if incorrectly) believe that the police are a force for evil or that they disproportionately target minorities, as well as perform other heinous acts.

While it’s true that not every police officer is a saint, the police force, by and large, is a force for good. Most police officers do their jobs well every day and need support from regular people, given how tough those jobs really are.

Therefore, we’d recommend that you stand your ground if someone confronts you about flying a Thin Blue Line flag. If you state your points clearly and calmly, you might even change their opinion and show them the truth. The more people who start flying Blue Line flags, the better.


In the end, no one can tell you what kinds of flags to fly. In our book, true patriots place the Thin Blue Line flag alongside their national or state flags and fly them proudly every day. This is America, after all – we all have the right to our opinions, and no one should be telling you that you can’t fly a flag that is all about respect.

Need help finding the right flag for your front yard? Fortunately, Printed Kicks has all kinds of flag designs to choose from, including the main Thin Blue Line flag and several variations. Check out our patriotic store today.



The Short, Fraught History of the ‘Thin Blue Line’ American Flag | The Marshall Flag

Thin blue line flag: What does it mean? |

History | Thin Blue Line Foundation 

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