Since the establishment of NORAD on May 12, 1958, the NORAD emblem has been proudly displayed as a symbol of unity between the United States and Canada. The heraldic meaning of the emblem follows:
The blue background of the shield signifies the air; the turquoise waters on the globe denote the sea; the yellow continent indicates the land -- the three environments in which any defense of the North American continent would take place.
The silver wings enfolding the globe in a protective manner, issuing from behind the globe and out of space, are symbolic of the armed forces and the might of NORAD.
The upward position of the sword, pointing toward the northern skies, represents the direction from which the shortest approach of the aggressor will be met by NORAD. Discharging from the sword are two lightning bolts portraying the instantaneous striking power with which any aggressor will be met by NORAD. With the advent of the asymmetric terrorist threat, it may also be said that the “sharp edges of the sword are prepared to meet any aggressor in our domestic airspace.”