When is it Appropriate for Veterans to Salute?

by Howard Callaway
(Columbus, GA)

When is it appropriate for veterans to salute?

The U.S. Code title quoted in this article is:

How about for the singing of the National Anthem or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before a meeting?

On these occasions the appropriate civilian response has been to remove hat and place hand on chest, but as a Veteran, I have always felt like saluting. These ceremonies do not involve the hoisting, lowering or passing of the US Flag, but they do seem to follow in the spirit of this bill.

Do you have an answer?

Good catch, Howard. And thank you for your service.

You are absolutely correct that the original bill sponsored by Senator Inhofe changed only the U.S. Code section dealing with "hoisting, lowering or passing" of the flag. It was passed as part of the Defense Authorization Act of 2008.

Like you, it was our belief that the spirit of the law was to permit veterans out of uniform to salute in instances where they would have saluted if in uniform.

There are three separate Code sections that need to be changed to accomplish that, but only one was changed by the original bill. There are separate sections that deal with the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance.

Congress corrected their oversight the following year, by including in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009 an amendment that clarifies that veterans not in uniform are authorized to render a hand salute when the flag is raised, lowered, or passing, and during the national anthem and pledge of allegiance.

The new authorization is voluntary, and gives veterans the choice whether to honor the flag with the military hand salute or to honor her by standing at attention with their hands over their hearts, as non-veteran citizens do.

We think the important thing is that ALL Americans (including the hyphenated ones) are taught to show the proper respect to Old Glory and all that she represents, including those who have died to keep her flying free o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

We all need to remember that we have the tremendous privilege of living in the land of the free precisely because of the brave, who were and are willing to risk all to keep us free.

Thank you for your question.

Comments for When is it Appropriate for Veterans to Salute?

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Salute at funeral
by: USS Kitty Hawk Vet

I had a good talk with an American Legion member honoring my WWII Army dad at his funeral about 5 years ago. I guess he was aware of the 2008 law change that I just learned about. He said I could salute during the playing of taps. I told him I was Navy and didn't salute uncovered. He said it was up to me but the new law permitted it.

Good site. I'll check it again.

Presenting a Salute during Taps at a Funeral
by: Retired Vet

Is it also appropriate for a veteran to salute when the Color Guard presents the flag and Taps is played at a military funeral?

Based upon the discussion above, and on others we have seen, we believe it is appropriate for a veteran who wishes to do so to salute any time our flag is presented. Doing so during the playing of Taps at a military funeral is a sign of respect not only for our flag, but for the service of the person being buried.

There are some discussions about whether one should salute when covered or uncovered (wearing a hat or not). This will be of interest mainly to those who have served in the Navy or Marine Corps, who do not salute when uncovered, even in uniform.

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