Veteran Salutes the US Flag
The National Defense Authorization Acts of 2008 and 2009 contained amendments to allow service members who are not in uniform, military retirees and veterans to use a military style hand salute during the hoisting, lowering or passing of the U.S. flag. In addition, they authorized the use of a military style hand salute during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel.
Here is the actual text from the laws: (emphasis is mine)
§ 9. Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag
During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, 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. All such conduct toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.
§ 301. National anthem
(a) DESIGNATION. — The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
(b) CONDUCT DURING PLAYING. — During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
Note: Part (C) applies to those not in the military and non-veterans. The phrase “men not in uniform” include those in civil service uniforms like police, fire fighters, and letter carriers — non-veteran civil servants who might normally render a salute while in uniform.
Bottom-line, if you are a member of the U.S. military or a veteran of the U.S. military, it is your right and your privilege to salute the flag in a military manner. Please use this as a reminder to everyone of those who are serving and especially those who have served and are no longer with us.