A bill in Congress right now has the military community split.
Rep. Lee Terry of Omaha has introduced a bill that would officially loosen flag customs rules (Title 4 of the U.S. Code) so that veterans and retirees can salute the flag in civilian attire, reports Joseph Morton of the World-Herald Bureau.
Officially, combat veterans, active-duty personnel, and retirees can only salute the flag while in uniform. The new rule, or lack thereof, allowing salutes in civilian attire has some vets concerned that soon everyone, civilians especially, is going to think they can throw down a military salute.
“To see someone who is holding his bag of popcorn and wearing just a baseball hat of his favourite team and then saluting the flag could cause some confusion, maybe make them think that’s an appropriate way for a civilian to respond to either the pledge or the national anthem,” said Colin Short, assistant director of the Americanism Division at the American Legion’s national headquarters, according to Morton’s report.
Other veterans don’t care if they’re officially allowed or not allowed to salute the flag in civilian attire. Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ron Dupell doesn’t care if the rules bar him from saluting in “civis,” he’s going to do it anyway.
“When I came back from Vietnam, I had screaming nightmares for five years,” Dupell, 70, a Papillion resident and quartermaster for Omaha-based VFW Post 2503, told Morton. “And to tell me what I can or cannot do when I’ve traveled to 27 countries on behalf of the United States of America … to do anything to limit the patriotic expression by a veteran, it just does not make sense.”
Considering there hasn’t been a citation or fine in recent memory (or, maybe ever) for an illegal salute of the flag, Dupell can probably go ahead and salute away.
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