Patriotism in and out of uniform

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Edward Lucas
  • 28th Bomb Wing Legal Office
When the national anthem plays at a baseball game or a color guard passes by during a parade with the U.S. flag unfurled, men, women and children stand and place their hands over their hearts and servicemembers in uniform snap to attention and render a sharp salute.
But how do servicemembers in civilian clothes and veterans show respect for the nation they have honorably served?

Patriotism comes from the heart, but the authority to exercise the privilege of saluting the U.S. flag is found in federal law. United States Code states how servicemembers in uniform will show respect for the flag and our national anthem. It also provides guidance on how civilians should show respect. However, the law does not address veterans and servicemembers out of uniform. Legislation signed into law by President Bush Oct. 14, 2008, made it clear that servicemembers in civilian clothes and veterans can render the salute.

Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma sponsored the legislation. He said this legislation "is an appropriate way to honor and recognize the 25 million veterans in the United States who have served in the military and remain as role models to other citizens. Those who are currently serving or have served in the military have earned this right, and their recognition will be an inspiration to others."

The men and women of the 28th Bomb Wing represent the United States and the Air Force both in and out of uniform. We have the privilege of being stationed in an area visited by countless people from around the world who come to see some of the United States' most beautiful scenery and patriotic monuments. We're also embedded in a community that eagerly and generously supports the wing's mission and each of us as Airmen.
While the law does not mandate the use of the salute, but rather merely authorizes it, I encourage all Airmen to exercise this hard-earned right. An appropriately rendered salute to our flag and national anthem shows the American people that you're proud of your service and respect the sacrifices of countless veterans who have served to make our nation great.