A change to Section 9 of the US Flag Code, written into the Defense Authorization Act of 2008, now gives veterans and members of the US Armed Forces the authority to render a hand salute to the flag, whether or not in uniform, or wearing the apparel of a VSO (veterans service organization) such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, or Vietnam Veterans’ cap.
The American Legion and the VFW both strongly opposed this legislation at the executive level. Reading through the various on-line threads, I came away with the impression that older veterans oppose this change, but younger veterans seem to like it. Having said that, a goodly number of Marines are adamantly opposed to this change, regardless of the time-frame in which they served.
As I frequently do when writing about the military, I consulted my favorite veteran—my son, Kelly, who served in the U.S. Navy for seven years. He was very surprised by this news, and said that he did not believe that he could ever render a hand salute out of uniform, and I would consider him a “younger” veteran (but he’s getting so old that it’s embarrassing–pretty soon I’ll have to start lying about his age).
Compliance to the U.S. Flag Code is voluntary, and this change in the code will be acted upon “voluntarily” too. But please be sensitive to this new rule; we will see more and more people using a hand-salute while in civilian clothing.
UPDATE: SEE ALSO—Veterans Salute the Flag—clarifying the change in the U.S. Code