Saluting the American Flag

Rules for saluting the American Flag for military members, veterans, and everyone without an armed forces background.

When it comes to American flag etiquette, most people tend to focus on how to display the flag properly and dispose of it in a dignified way. But there is another way to show respect that often gets overlooked: Saluting.

Child saluting American flag

Just like other areas of flag etiquette, saluting the flag comes with its own set of rules. In fact, a few different national acts lay out how veterans and military members should salute the flag. Traditionally, veterans and those in the armed forces have given a hand-salute to the flag during the national anthem at events or at parades only wearing their official head-gear.

However, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 contained an amendment that now allows military members, veterans, and retirees NOT in uniform to salute flag while it’s being raised and lowered.

Soldier Saluting American flag


The Defense Authorization Act of 2009 added the national anthem to the list of allowed salutes while not in uniform. The latter act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 14th, 2008.

Can everyone else without a military background salute the flag? Absolutely! When a flag passes in procession or is being raised or lowered, everyone in attendance should turn, face the flag, and salute.


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4 Replies to “Saluting the American Flag

  1. Flags either of any country deserves respect and honor. Being a resident or a non
    resident very educated and civilized person must be aware of the flag etiquette especially
    the country they are living in, as a flag depicts a whole country. I completely agree that respecting a flag is a serious matter.

  2. I would also like to know if you are a veteran and, obviously not in uniform, do you still remove your hat outside and salute the flag whether to be during the national anthem or for flag raising or lowering as you would if you were civilian?

    1. Bellamy salute
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
      The Bellamy salute is the salute described by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), Christian socialist minister and author, to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he had authored in 1892. During the period when it was used with the Pledge of Allegiance, it was sometimes known as the “flag salute”. Later, during the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted a salute which was the exact same except for the flag to which it was directed. This resulted in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States. It was officially replaced by the hand-over-heart salute when Congress amended the Flag Code on December 22, 1942.

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