When to Salute

Post date: Sep 30, 2013 4:08:19 PM

Traditionally, members of the nation's veteran’s service organizations have rendered the hand-salute during the national anthem and at events involving the national flag only while wearing their organization’s official head-gear.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 contained an amendment to allow un-uniformed service members, military retirees, and veterans to render a hand salute during the hoisting, lowering, or passing of the U.S. flag.

A later amendment further authorized hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel. This was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which President Bush signed on Oct. 14, 2008.


Section 301(b)(1) of title 36, United States Code, is amended by striking subparagraphs (A) through (C) and inserting the following new subparagraphs:

``(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;

Note: Part (C) applies to those not in the military and non-veterans. The phrase "men not in uniform" refers to civil service uniforms like police, fire fighters, and letter carriers - non-veteran civil servants who might normally render a salute while in uniform.

Saluting Etiquette:

The salute of the flag should occur when someone raises or lowers the flag on a flagpole; when the flag passes by, such as in a parade; or when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Veterans should stand at full attention with their left arm at their side and their hand touching their thigh. Their feet should have the heels touching and the toes pointing outward. When saluting bring your right arm up so that the upper arm is parallel with the floor then bend their elbow at a 45-degree angle toward their brow. Fingers and thumb are together with the pointer finger touching the brim of their hat or brow.

Do not sing the National Anthem or the recite the Pledge of Allegiance, simply salute the flag and continue to look at it through the song or recitation. If you wish to sing the National Anthem or the recite the Pledge of Allegiance, then follow the next section.

When civilians are saluting the flag, they should stand and face it. They should place their right hand over their heart and look at the flag. Men wearing hats should take them off with their right hand and place them over their left shoulder, thus placing the right hand over their heart.

You may often notice veterans of the US Navy or US Marine Corp not saluting indoors unless they are wearing the appropriate "cover", as their traditions vary from other branches of the armed forces.