WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) praised the President's signing of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009, which includes a provision to allow veterans and military members out of uniform to salute the flag during the National Anthem. Senator Inhofe sponsored the amendment to ensure veterans and all members of the Armed Forces be given the right to render a military salute to the United States flag. The National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009 was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate on Saturday, September 27, and was signed by President Bush today.
"With the President's signature today, we have finally revised the law to give veterans the proper distinction of saluting during the National Anthem," Senator Inhofe said. "The salute is a form of honor and respect, representing pride in one's military service. Veterans and service members continue representing the military services even when not in uniform. The U.S. Code is now consistent for veterans and all service members in regards to the symbolic gesture of the military salute.
"I believe this 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."
A provision championed by Senator Inhofe in the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 modified Title 4 of the U.S. Code to allow veterans and military service members not in uniform to render the military salute during hoisting, lowering, or passing of the flag, but it did not allow them to salute the flag during the National Anthem. Section 595 of S. 3001, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, amends Title 36 of the U.S. Code to allow veterans and service members not in uniform to salute the flag during the National Anthem, making the two sections of U.S. Code consistent.
Senator Inhofe's effort on behalf of America's 25 million veterans has garnered praise from veterans and publications across the country.
"On behalf of America's Medal of Honor Recipients and FlightSafety's teammates in Oklahoma and around the world, we particularly want to commend Senator Inhofe for his successful efforts on the salute the flag legislation. If it were not for Senator Inhofe's commitment, 25 million American veterans would not be able to render the military salute to the American flag," Bruce Whitman, Co-Chairman, Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and President and CEO, FlightSafety International.
"Senator James Inhofe has served diligently for many years as a veterans advocate in the United States Senate. The Senator's bill amending the United States Code to allow veterans and active duty military personnel to render the military salute when out of uniform gives additional dignity to veterans attending ceremonies that include the formal presentation to the flag of our country. As a Vietnam veteran, I would like to salute the Senator for his years of dedication to our military veterans and to those still on active duty in the defense of our country," Richard Elsheimer, Past State Commander, Department of Oklahoma, Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The Enid News and Eagle reported, "Inhofe's proposal makes it clear military people can salute the flag when out of uniform. ... Veteran Johnny Stamps of Del City praised the legislation, saying he never knew there was a regulation indicating veterans out of uniform should place their arms over their hearts instead of saluting...." (Ron Jenkins, AP, "Veterans Salute Inhofe for Action," July 28, 2007.)
On October 17, 2007, The Yukon Review editorial, Sen. Inhofe, Lawmakers Deserve Praise for the Flag Salute Law, commended the legislation saying, "U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and his fellow senators deserve praise for recent passage of S.B. 1877 authorized by Inhofe clarifying U.S. law to allow veterans and service members not in uniform to salute the flag.... We join the senator in looking forward to seeing those who have served saluting proudly at baseball games, parades, and formal events."
On July 3, 2008, The Record in New Jersey also noted the bill's importance, "Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., an Army veteran, led the charge, saying those who served earned the right to salute. The change to Section 9 of the code allows military retirees, veterans and active-duty service members who are not in uniform to give the military salute during the hoisting, lowering or passing of the flag. ... ‘People don't realize what that little salute means to a veteran,' said Richard Martin, 65, of Paramus, a Vietnam veteran and commander of the Bergen Chapter 522 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. ‘I think it's great.'"