Veterans Can Salute the Flag

Military Salute

I remember saluting the flag while in the Army.  While in uniform I rendered the military hand salute, but in civilian clothing I lost that honor.  Apparently, the law has changed (2008) and as veterans, we now have the honor of continuing the military salute in respect to our prior service.

While this may seem like a small thing to many people, those of us that served in the armed forces appreciate this extension of military courtesy in acknowledgement of our service to our country.  To all the veterans out there, let’s pass this around!  I think that if all veterans start doing this at football games and city council meetings, folks will understand how many of their friends and neighbors took time out of their lives to serve our country!

The Updated Law


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

“(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;

One final point noted in Section C.  Gentlemen, please remove your hats during the National Anthem.  Our flag is a symbol of what unites us as a country, without regard to our backgrounds, economic status, or personal politics.  We are all Americans.  It is a symbol that deserves our respect.

Dr. Robert Townsend Served

Having thought about this a bit, I think I should reflect on my military service. I see candidates mentioning theirs, and at the last meeting of the Clare County Democrats it became apparent that not many folks knew I served. This is not because I am not proud of my service- I started as a private E-2 and was promoted to PFC in basic. I continued enlisted to E-4 as a combat medic doing range support at Fort Custer in the Reserve. I continued on to ROTC and a commission at the request of my commanding officer when I went to MSU. I left just prior to the first Gulf War due to medical school.

My military service was just another event that helped shaped my life. While I didn’t see combat, as a medic it is not like I flew a desk- I actually provided medical support for our soldiers as they trained and participated in a number of annual trainings. I truly respect our combat vets, and appreciate all that stepped forward, but in my family it was considered normal and expected. As a physician, I spend quite a bit of time working with veterans at the VA, both in training and as an attending- direct care in a CBOC similar to the one in Clare and to help them with their pensions and compensation. Veteran issues are very important to me.

When I was training in KY I worked at the Louisville VA. My son Robert was about 4 at the time and he walked over from our house to visit with me (with his mom of course). As we ate, a group of WW2 relaxed in the sun nearby, some in wheelchairs. My son asked me about them and I told him who they were and about what they did, the sacrifices they had made, and the impact they had on our world. He thought for a moment, and walked over and shook each of their hands and thanked them for what they did. Instilling appreciation for their service in the next generation is far more important than my small contribution to our country.

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