The Dwindling Official Use of Military Flags
- By: Cameron Rochelle
Historically, most armies entered battle with soldiers armed with weapons appropriate for the times. In nearly all recorded instances of battles being waged, both sides used military flags to symbolize the ground forces. Usually, these flags, or as they were referred to early on, field signs, were quite different from the national flags which represented the countries the armies fought for or defended.
Historians estimate as far back as the Bronze Age, when armed warcraft was at its most nascent stages, there were banners or signs created from the crests of ruling families. Where there may have been indecision as to who's banner was flown, signs and flags of various colors or designs were created in order to show solidarity of the attacking and defending forces.
Thus, the term military flag was coined--for use by forces attacking and defending on the ground. When the advent of naval forces started to grow around the 1600s, those ships entering battle would raise and fly what was then, and now, referred to as an ensign.
Incidentally, the U.S. naval officer's rank of ensign was so designated directly as this person was charged with caring for, raising and lowering the flag on the warring ships.
While there are still a number of countries around the world which continue to designate separate military flags, naval ensigns and national flags, the number is dwindling.
Today, more national entities ground forces simply rely upon the country's flag for any and all military use. The days of separate flags for either ground or naval forces seems to be slipping into the past, to be replaced by the branding of a single, unified national flag.
For many historians and collectors of such items, this trend amounts to a prime opportunity to collect valuable bits of history which are unlikely to be replicated in the future. Since the single union jack is now the only banner to be flown for all military instances, one must go to the past in order to discover and appreciate the variety of flags and field signs used in various battles and wars.
The good news for those interested in having a better understanding of the past, and the intricacies of our worldly historical battles and such, there are a number of fine online outlets catering to the needs of these collectors.
War memorabilia, and specifically military flags, can be found with some simple online searches on the topic. Of course, finding businesses which sell authentic, high-quality flags may take a bit more time and effort, however.
And what avid collector or afficiandos of war history wishes to spend money on flags which are cheap knock-offs of the original items? Granted, the availability and cost of original war flags might prohibit some collectors with limited financial resources, some very good reproductions made today can be found with a little extra effort.
So whether one indulges in the long-banners hung from horizontal crossbars of Iron Age battles or simply is looking for specific military flags from recent times, there is likely an online source with all one's needs and desires waiting just a few mouse clicks away.
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