Legislation recently introduced in the House would allow service members and veterans who are not in uniform to render hand salutes during the Pledge of Allegiance, rather than putting their hands over their hearts.
A provision of federal law known as the Flag Code currently limits who can salute:
The Pledge 'should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.'
The bill by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), is the latest effort to settle a debate about rendering hand salutes when not in uniform. In 2008, Congress amended the flag code to allow veterans and service members not in uniform to issue hand salutes when the U.S. flag is raised or lowered. In 2009, the code was changed to allow a hand salute during the playing of the National Anthem.
"This common-sense legislation creates parity for those veterans and active-duty military not in uniform who want to give a military-style salute when they are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance," Terry in a statement. "This legislation is based on an idea brought to me by our local VFW. It is just common sense that the flag code should be amended," Terry concluded.
Terry introduced similar legislation during the last Congress that was included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013. But the provision was not included in the conference report.
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