Via Seamus, there's a movement brewing for Veterans to be able to salute during the National Anthem or when passing the colors.
Retired Major General Vernon B. Lewis:
I gathered some 16 of my old military friends who agreed to sponsor a movement for Veterans to salute rather than place their hands over their heart when honoring the flag, fallen comrades, and/or the country. I have some from each of the four principal services. Three of them were former Vice Chiefs or Assistant Commandants of their services, and several were former CINC's.
We refer to saluting when we do the pledge to the flag, when the National Colors pass or are presented, when the National Anthem or honors are played, or when taps are played and firing squads or guns render honors.
We got MOAA magazine to ask veterans what they preferred, hand over the heart or saluting. When last I looked, some 583 veteran respondents had voted 81% in favor of the salute. In addition, my email address was in the questionairre and I've had about 150 responses, with all but a dozen or so in favor of the salute. Obviously an overwhelming majority of the veterans want to salute.
There are no regulations telling us veterans what we can and can't do in this matter. If we decide we want to salute, who will dare to tell us "no"?
It is a matter of personal choice. We've earned the right to render a salute. Now the challange is to get the word out. I believe the unit and branch associations are the best way. The commanders of the American Legion and VFW never answered my emails, presuming they even got them. If we can get this started it will take on a life of its own. Those who object can continue the hand over the heart thing. Gradually the custom will change, as well it should.
Just imagine thousands of fans salutiing at NFL, MBA, and Major League Baseball games when the National Anthem is plalyed. It will telegraph a message to all others of how many have served this country in the Armed Forces---it will be a positive and patroitic message.
You can help by putting the word out in your organizations, which are made up of patriots like you and me. Thanks, my friend.
Now, I'm not so sure how I feel about this. Before I read this email, I would have said it's a privilege ONLY for those who wear the uniform. What do you think?
Update 3-23-06: Russ Vaughn, Viet Nam vet and MilBlog Poet Laureate, sends along his thoughts in poetic form.
Who’ll tell this vet he can’t salute?
Whoever does may feel my boot.
I took the oath, I fought the fight,
So who’s to question my earned right?
It’s my decision when and where;
What other’s think I couldn’t care.
I don’t salute for mere effect;
I salute to show my deep respect,
For my fellow warriors and Old Glory;
End of argument, end of story.