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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TERRY. Mr. Chair, I thank Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Smith for accepting my amendment as part of this en bloc package.

In the last months of the Bush Administration, a change was made authorizing veterans and active-duty military not in uniform to render the military-style hand salute during the playing of the national anthem. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake said at the time, ``The military salute is a unique gesture of respect that marks those who have served in our nation's armed forces. This provision allows the application of that honor in all events involving our nation's flag.''

This change, authorizing hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel, was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009 and improved upon a little known change that was contained in the previous National Defense Authorization Act which authorized veterans to render the military-style hand salute during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, but it did not address salutes during the national anthem.

These were important changes; however, they should have been broadened even further to authorize veterans and active-duty military not in uniform to render the military-style hand salute during the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Current Flag Code states that the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, ``I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,'' should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform, men should remove their 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. ( 4. Pledge of Allegiance to the flag; manner of delivery)

My amendment is an idea brought to us by our local VFW that simply seeks to create parity for veterans in and out of uniform who are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Veterans of this great nation take deep pride in being able to express honor in the way only veterans can, each time they reaffirm their pledge of allegiance to our great nation and its colors.

I thank Chairman McKeon for his support of this amendment allowing vets to render a hand salute.


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