Good Question - U.S. Flag Code

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

As Memorial Day approaches, one viewer has a question about the U.S. flag. “Is it against the law for a civilian to salute the U.S. flag?” Good question.

The basic answer is no, it’s not illegal for a civilian to salute the flag. What is defined by law is how a civilian salutes the flag.

If you are a civilian and not a veteran, you are to salute the flag by placing your right hand over your heart. Men wearing head covering should remove it and hold it to their left shoulder, with their hand over their heart.

This law once applied to veterans as well, but a new law passed in 2008 allows retirees and veterans not in uniform to use a formal military salute to the flag. The amendment, called the National Defense Authorization Act, only addresses the hoisting, lowering or passing of the U.S. flag, and not the playing of the national anthem or other saluting situations.

Memorial Day commemorates men and women of the United States who died while serving in the military. For those who are not and have never been in the military, U.S. flag code is a big deal.

For those not familiar with the proper flag code, visit

Send your good questions to

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