Veterans Authorized to Salute

Veterans Authorized to Salute

Picture of Flag

Picture of Salute

J. C. Cannon, 89, a veteran and POW survivor of WWII,
renders the hand salute at campmeeting July 2009

New Law Authorizes Veterans' Salutes during National Anthem

WASHINGTON 2009 -- Veterans and active-duty military not in uniform can now render the military-style hand salute during the playing of the national anthem, thanks to changes in federal law that took effect this month.

"The military salute is a unique gesture of respect that marks those who have served in our nation's armed forces," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "This provision allows the application of that honor in all events involving our nation's flag."

The new provision improves upon a little known change in federal law last year that authorized veterans to render the military-style hand salute during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, but it did not address salutes during the national anthem. Last year's provision also applied to members of the armed forces while not in uniform.
Traditionally, members of the nation's veterans service organizations have rendered the hand-salute during the national anthem and at events involving the national flag while wearing their organization's official head-gear.

The most recent change, authorizing hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel, was sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, an Army veteran. It was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which President Bush signed on Oct. 14.

The earlier provision authorizing hand-salutes for veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, was contained in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which took effect Jan. 28, 2008.

Article on Veteran's Affairs Web Page

The original Bill:

8/14/2007 - WASHINTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today praised the passage by unanimous consent of his bill (S.1877) clarifying U.S. law to allow veterans and service personnel not in uniform to salute the flag.

Current law (US Code Title 4, Chapter 1) states that veterans and service members not in uniform should place their hand over their heart without clarifying whether they can or should salute the flag.

"The salute is a form of honor and respect, representing pride in one's military service," Senator Inhofe said. "Veterans and service members continue representing the military services even when not in uniform.

"Unfortunately, current U.S. law leaves confusion as to whether veterans and service members out of uniform can or should salute the flag. My legislation will clarify this regulation, allowing veterans and service personnel alike to salute the flag, whether they are in uniform or not."

"I look forward to seeing those who have served saluting proudly at baseball games, parades, and formal events. I believe this is an appropriate way to honor and recognize the 25 million veterans in the United States who have served in the military and remain as role models to others citizens. Those who are currently serving or have served in the military have earned this right, and their recognition will be an inspiration to others."

This Bill was passed July 25, 2007.

Comments by Jim Hubbard, Woodstock, Ga,
Veteran of Viet Nam Conflict.

I was introduced to this bill at a Board of Commissioner's Meeting in May 2009. Our Chairman announced the change in the law, and invited all veterans to join him in saluting during the pledge. I did so with pride.

In July I introduced it to my Campmeeting in North Georgia. I saluted at every service, as did many of our veterans, including Mr. Cannon pictured above. Due to his advanced age, and injuries suffered as a POW, he can't stand as tall as he once did, and his hand may not be as straight as some, but it was an honor to me to join him in the salute.

My Boy Scout heritage taught me flag etiquette and procedures, and I was always proud to render the hand salute when I wore my Scout Leader's Uniform, and I always missed the honor of saluting. Now I can proudly salute whenever we honor our flag.

This salute is optional. I have heard from some veterans who say they will never salute again. Some military leaders have said it is not appropriate. Some people want to, others do not. It's their choice. I chose to salute.

One of the congressmen who introduced the bills said "It is an opportunity for the veterans to honor the flag they defended, and for the people to honor the veterans."

I am honored to salute my country and my flag

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