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Salute Rules

Question: I,m a vet and it seems that the rules for saluting our flag have changed since I served. Can you help?

The short answer is, as a Veteran, not in uniform, you have two choices:

1) leave your cover on (head gear, if you're wearing any) and render the military salute, or
2) remove your cover and place it over your heart.

The type of cover is irrelevant in both cases.
I'll quote the actual language from the US Code in just a minute.

There's more to this however.
There are three different sections of the US code that deal with conduct during salutes:
Title 4, Section 1 Para 4: saluting during the pledge of allegience
Title 4, Section 1 Para 9: saluting when the flag is raised, lowered, or passes in a parade
Title 36, Subtitle 1 Part A Para 301: saluting during the playing of the national anthem

Originally, all three said that persons in uniform give the military salute, other male citizens wearing headgear remove their covers and hold them over their hearts, and other citizens place hands over hearts.
There were minor differences:
the pledge of allegience version made an exception for men wearing religious headgear, and the raising/lowering version specified that non-citizens should stand at attention without saluting.
The code was amended (2008) by Public Law (PL) 110-181. Congress's intent was to allow military personel and veterans to give the military salute even if they were not in uniform.
What they did was to amend Title 4, Section 1, Para 9 while leaving the other two sections unchanged.
As amended. Para 9 reads as follows:
".. . all persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention."

Because Congress did not change the other two sections, this new language only applies when the flag raised, lowered, or passing in review. During the playing of the national anthem and the reciting of the pledge of allegience, the old rules still technically apply.

It's not clear what rules apply when the national anthem is played as the flag is raised the revised code actually contradicts itself. This is an absurd situation, of course. Congress obviously meant to change the rules in all three cases, but they were sloppy and didn't do it right, so what else is new. Until they fix it, my take would be that we should follow the new version of Section 9 in all three cases.

Notice that the new version of Section 9 also eliminates the distinction between men and women. Formerly, women civilians were supposed to leave their hats on; as revised, they're apparently supposed to remove them (unless they are military or veterans, of course). At least, that's what it seems to say the phrase "if applicable" is not very specific.



H.R. 4986 [110th] was signed into law in 2008.
SEC. 594. CONDUCT BY MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES AND VETERANS OUT OF UNIFORM DURING HOISTING, LOWERING, OR PASSING OF UNITED STATES FLAG.
Section 9 of title 4, United States Code, is amended by striking "all persons present" and all that follows through the end of the section and inserting the following: "all persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces H.R. 4986137 and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered atthe moment the flag passes.'

PL 110-181: Veterans may now render the military salute to the flag.
U.S. Government Printing Office Web Site | 28 Jan 2008 | United States Congress

Public Law 110-181, Section 594:

SEC. 594. CONDUCT BY MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES AND VETERANS OUT OF UNIFORM DURING HOISTING, LOWERING, OR PASSING OF UNITED STATES FLAG.

Section 9 of title 4, United States Code, is amended by striking ``all persons present'' and all that follows through the end of the section and inserting the following: ``all persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces

[Page 122 STAT. 139]

and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.''.

(Excerpt) Read more at frwebgate.access.gpo.gov ...

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