Civilians Saluting the Flag?

by Patriot Guard Rider

I read your comment at Veterans Salute the Flag, "Now, when you are in a public place, such as a parade or ball game, and you see civilians saluting the flag, at the appropriate time, take a moment to thank them for their service." Is this sarcasm?

I am a Patriot Guard Rider. I am a civilian. I place my hand over my heart at the appropriate time.

Veterans and active duty members of the military salute. There is a civilian that salutes, and the service men and women find it insulting. He thinks it's alright for him to salute, and salutes when the military does.

Is it or isn't it proper etiquette?


No, it isn't sarcasm at all.

Thanks for helping us clarify this issue, in case other readers are also confused by our comments.

As you correctly point out, active duty military and veterans have earned the right to salute our flag. Congress recently made that clear. The appropriate show of respect for a true civilian who has never served is to place the right hand over the heart.

Once a veteran leaves active duty, he or she becomes a civilian again.

Our comment simply meant to highlight that if you see someone in civilian clothing saluting our flag, that is your indication that person is a veteran, and it is appropriate (and appreciated) for you to thank him or her for serving. But as you correctly point out, the only civilians who should be saluting the flag are veterans.

You have our gratitude as a Patriot Guard Rider. You guys and gals do an awesome and much-needed job, and we thank you.

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Saluting the Flag
by: Tom Freymann

I'm a two-combat-tour Veteran of the Vietnam Conflict (War was never declared by the U.S.Congress, as is the case today in the fight against ISIS. They are again abdicating their duties under the Constitution.), I don't know what the Navy Veteran was talking about when he said what he was told when he was discharged, but when I enlisted in the U.S.Army when I was seventeen, the enlistment tour was for six years, three active duty, and three inactive, but able to be recalled to active duty any time in case of national emergency.

Until just recently, when Congress made it official, saluting the flag for veterans, as civilians, was not considered proper. If the veteran or civilian wore head covering, they were to remove it and place it with the right hand over the heart. Now, a veteran may leave his or her head covering on and salute the flag as if still in uniform, while the civilian must remove their head covering and place it over their heart.

Veteran status, saluting the flag.
by: David

"Once a veteran leaves active duty, he or she becomes a civilian again."

A person on active military duty is not a veteran. He or she is a soldier, an airman, a marine, etc. A veteran is a person who is no longer in the military service. A civilian is "a person who is not on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire fighting organization" as defined by websters dictionary.

So while a veteran is also a civilian, a civilian is not necessarily a veteran.

As to who can/should salute the flag; Obviously, military service members on active duty in uniform are required to salute the flag at the appropriate times. Veterans out of uniform may render the hand salute if they so desire.

The civilian version of expressing one's feelings toward the flag and what it represents to them, equivalent to the military/veterans hand salute is placing their right hand over their heart.

Having served in the military, however, I believe the choice to render honors is a personal choice that millions of veterans have fought and died for.

No one would say anything to a small child saluting the flag or someone in uniform (remember JFK Jr. at his father's funeral)and in fact should return the salute.

Being knowledgeable in the law and able to kindly inform people that the law concerning veteran's rendering the hand salute has recently changed to allow it is the best way to respond to someone challenging them saluting out of uniform.

Perhaps "I understand your concern, but the law concerning this has changed recently, and as a (Navy, Army, etc.) veteran I'm glad to be able to salute the flag as I did when I was on active duty" or something similar would be appropriate.

David, thank you for your comments, and for echoing what we have said in other places in this discussion of veterans saluting the flag.

Upon discharge.....
by: Navy Viet Nam combat veteran

"Once a veteran leaves active duty, he or she becomes a civilian again".

That's true...however, comma, when I was discharged, I was not told that I was relieved of the Oath I took to protect our country against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

At that time in my life and our history (1969), I never envisioned having DOMESTIC ENEMIES, so those of us who have chosen to do so, stay on guard against such enemies.

Fighting at the ballot box is the first line of defense...let's hope it does not get to the next level.

"At that time in my life and our history (1969), I never envisioned having DOMESTIC ENEMIES . . ."

As unfortunate as it is, I'm afraid we've been faced with domestic enemies for many years -- folks like Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, who came to national attention in 1969 bombing public buildings in the US.

Again, our comments were meant to recognize that when you see someone in civilian clothes, you cannot be sure if he or she is a "pure civilian" who never served in the military, or a veteran who, upon discharge, returns to civilian status.

Someone in civilian clothing who salutes the American flag when it is appropriate is most likely a veteran, and it would be a nice gesture to thank them for their service.

Like you, we hope the coming revolution at the ballot box is the only level of revolution necessary to put our country back on the path our Founding Fathers created. If it isn't, as you point out, there are plenty of patriotic Americans (some veterans, some citizens), who are no doubt prepared to move on to the next level to restore our nation to the constitutional republic it has been for 200+ years. Let's pray that's not necessary, because "it won't be pretty."

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