PLATTSBURGH - For Veterans Day, U.S. Bill Owens encourages veterans to hand-salute the flag during the national anthem and other flag ceremonies.
In 2008, Congress authorized veterans out of uniform to hand-salute the flag at appropriate events, including the playing of the national anthem at sporting events. Prior to 2008, U.S law only allowed veterans wearing a uniform to salute during flag ceremonies and the national anthem. Veterans wearing American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars caps were approved, but that meant many veterans attending public events like professional sporting events were not authorized to salute the flag.
Owens says many veterans are unaware of that change.
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune highlighted a national movement to encourage veterans to hand salute the flag. As part of the movement, Korean War veteran and astronaut Buzz Aldrin recently started VetSalute to raise awareness among veterans that they are now allowed to salute out of uniform, as he did from the surface of the moon after planting the American flag there during the Apollo XI mission.
"Seeing veterans rising among the crowd to salute sends a powerful message to all in attendance," Owens said.