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Source: Army Times
Date: July 29, 2007
Byline: Ron Jenkins - The Associated Press

Vets glad of Senate measure on saluting flag

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma veterans said Friday they were amazed to learn of a federal law restricting them from saluting the flag.

"Nobody's going to keep me from saluting my flag," said retired Air Force Col. Robert "Bob" Powell of Tulsa, 85-year-old veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

"I would list it [the regulation] as non-effective. It's military jargon. It doesn't mean a damn."

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., sponsored a measure that passed by unanimous consent clarifying a law that said veterans and other military personnel out of uniform should place their hands over their hearts when recognizing the flag.

Inhofe's proposal makes it clear that military people can salute the flag when out of uniform.

"The salute is a form of honor and respect, representing pride in one's military service," Inhofe said. "Veterans and service members continue representing the military services even when not in uniform.

"Unfortunately, current U.S. law leaves confusion whether veterans and service members out of uniform can or should salute the flag. My legislation will clarify this regulation, allowing veterans and servicemen alike to salute the flag, whether they are in uniform or not."

Veteran Johnny Stamps of Del City praised the legislation, saying he never knew there was a regulation indicating that veterans out of uniform should place their arms over their hearts instead of saluting.

"I usually salute, being a veteran," Stamps said. "Personally, I feel they ought to be able to choose what they want to do. Saluting is what you learn in your career and it is just kind of a habit, like remembering your serial number.

"It's been over 40 years [since joining the military], and I still remember my serial number, when sometimes I can't remember my telephone number."

"I look forward to seeing those who have served saluting proudly at baseball games, parades, and formal events," Inhofe said. "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 others 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."

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