Why Veterans Stand Salute our Flag and National Anthem

Independence High School AFJROTC. (Paul Imirie)
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A child honoring the flag. (Ed Berti)
Independence High School AFJROTC Color Guard. (Ed Berti)
Honor the Warriors Veterans. (Paul Imirie)
Novant Health float. (Paul Imirie)
VFW Post 4059 Veterans. (Paul Imirie)
Purple Heart Veterans. (Paul Imirie)

Now that the Memorial Day holiday is behind us until next year, it’s time to reflect why this day and Veterans Day in November is so important to veterans, but also to our traditions, culture, and what it means to be an American.

Memorial Day is all about honoring the veterans who have fallen, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation. While Veterans Day, is about thanking all our veterans who have worn a military uniform of the armed forces of the United States of America.

Many veterans are conflicted on when they should stand and salute after they are discharged from the military. The reason really is based on the branch of service the individual served. Usually, standing at attention is appropriate, which is done when jogging or walking on a military base if you hear the morning bugle sounds of colors.

Also, with all the noise over standing for the flag at football games and other events over the past few years has added to the confusion. Therefore, to clarify this matter the following would be applicable.

The proper conduct during the national anthem is stated in a federal statute: Title 36 of the U.S. Code, 301. It clearly states, when the national anthem is being played and a flag is displayed their are three options.

  1. Individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain the position until the last note.
  2. 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. With an emphasis added, and,
  3. 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 remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.

If no flag is displayed during the national anthem, “all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.”

So basically veterans have the option of saluting the flag or standing at attention with your hand over your heart. For those who did not serve in the military simply stand, remove your hat and put your right hand over your heart.

We should all stand because we honor and respect the meaning of our flag, what it truly represents around the world as the beacon of light for hope and freedom. We should honor those who have defended our freedoms for well over 200 years. This includes the families who have sacrificed their sons and daughters. We see our youth wearing JROTC uniforms and presenting the colors at sports, parades, and other holiday or community events.

Furthermore, the pledge of allegiance we learned during our school days that taught us we are one nation, under God. Our anthem and flag is a statement, it clearly shows our independence, pride, and vision. It must not be taken for granted, because it would not take much for all to be lost or stolen by those who do not share our beliefs as ONE nation, under God.

We must never forget the sacrifices of those brave men and women of all color, races and creeds did before us. Including today those serving in our armed forces have made and still make everyday so the rest of us can pursue our dreams and lives enjoying the freedoms we have in this country.

Throughout our history, sacrifices had to be made, the one thing in common was to defend our flag, and the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
Ed can be reached at ed@minthilltimes.com, eberti7777@gmail.com and linkedin.com.