Saluting the Flag by Junior Service Organizations

by Charles J Whitfield
(Louisville, KY)

Charles writes:

I am teaching a junior color guard (ages 7 thru 14) how to post colors and present colors at an AMVETs state meeting.

Are the juniors allowed to salute the flag by rendering the hand salute, or do they place their hands over their hearts?

This is a nationally recognized Junior AMVETs organization with a uniform and appropriate head gear.

Well, Charles, I have to say, you've stumped me with this one! So I'll call on readers for some help.

My first thought is that the answer to this question should be contained in the organization's by-laws, or regulations for ceremonies, or something similar. If it isn't, a revision is in order to answer this question.

My second thought is that the legislation Congress passed refers to veterans only. Since these juniors are not veterans, the appropriate show of respect for our flag would be to place their hands over their hearts.

My third thought concerns the "uniforms" they wear. Are they military or pseudo-military uniforms? Would it look strange for them, in these uniforms, to NOT salute the flag?

What do they do in parades or other events when the flag is present?

You've asked an excellent question Charles, about saluting the flag by junior service organizations, and I'm hoping some of our readers can help with the answer.

These issues should be addressed in some of the group's official documentation, so if it isn't, perhaps you could suggest that at your next meeting.

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Absolutely Salute When in Uniform
by: Pat Alexander, USMC Veteran

I believe that junior service organizations should render the proper hand salute when in uniform.

The Boy Scouts of America and their younger component, the Cub Scouts render their organization's salute, (two fingers extended for Cubs and three for Boy Scouts).

Speaking of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and the National Colors, I'm sure you are aware that these organizations perform "retirement" ceremonies for tattered or soiled flags. It is an amazing and moving experience to see these young men rendering proper honors as they execute the burning of these flags.

You will certainly see them at attention and saluting as each flag to be retired is handled with dignity and respect and retired into the flames. Contact your local Scout Council to find out about the next scheduled flag retirement ceremony and go watch this patriotic display. It will warm your heart.

Pat, thank you for responding with your comments.

I understand the point about the Boy Scouts (and Cub Scouts), but as you point out, they have their own unique salute. Does that make a difference?

I believe the bottom line is that the proper respect be shown our flag, and I can't imagine anyone faulting these young men and women for doing so, whether they render a hand salute or place their hands over their hearts.

But I have to say, I tend to lean in the same direction as you. If they're in a military or pseudo-military uniform, I think it will look odd for them to not render the hand salute.

Thanks again for your comments. Anyone else have thoughts on this issue?

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