On About the Gold Fringe on the American Flag Gold fringe is used on the National flag as an honorable enrichment only. It is not regarded as an integral part of the flag and its use does not constitute an unauthorized addition to the design prescribed by statutes.
Records of the Department of the Army indicate that fringe was used on the National flag as early as 1835 and its official use by the Army dates from 1895. There is no record of an Act of Congress or Executive Order which either prescribes or prohibits the addition of fringe, nor is there any indication that any symbolism was ever associated with it. The use of fringe is optional with the person or organization displaying the flag.
A 1925 Attorney General's Opinion (34 Op. Atty. Gen 483) states:
"The fringe does not appear to be regarded as an integral part of the flag, and its presence cannot be said to constitute an unauthorized additional to the design prescribed by statute. An external fringe is to be distinguished from letters, words, or emblematic designs printed or superimposed upon the body of the flag itself. Under the law, such additions might be open to objection as unauthorized; but the same is not necessarily true of the fringe."
It is customary to place gold fringe on silken (rayon-silk-nylon) National flags that are carried in parades, used in official ceremonies, and displayed in offices, merely to enhance the beauty of the flag. The use of fringe is not restricted to the Federal Government. Such flags are used and displayed by our Armed Forces, veterans, civic and civilian organizations, and private individuals. However, it is the custom not to use fringe on flags displayed from stationary flagpoles and, traditionally, fringe has not been used on internment flags.