PATRIOT WEEK: The Salute, flag history show pride

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The salute is one of the most revered forms of respect for the flag and for those who have served to protect it.

You’ll notice that when it comes time to salute the flag, everyone present will come to attention. According the National Flag Foundation, all persons in uniform should give the military salute, as should members of the Armed Forces and veterans who may not be in uniform.

The latter recommendation was put into place by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which contained an amendment to allow un-uniformed service members, military retirees and veterans to render a hand salute during the hoisting, lowering or passing of the U.S. flag.

All other persons should salute by placing their right hand over their hearts. Men wearing a hat, cap or other headwear are to remove it, while women are not required to remove their head covering.

According to the National Flag Foundation, the salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of the national anthem, whichever is longer.

Other recommendations from the National Flag Foundation are as follows:

• When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute by placing their right hand over their heart at the first note, holding the salute through the last note.

The salute is directed to the flag. If in uniform, the person should salute in the formal manner. It is proper to salute wherever the national anthem is played.

• When the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, citizens should stand at attention and salute by also placing their right hand over the heart with the first word and holding the salute through the last line of the Pledge. The salute is directed to the flag by facing it during the Pledge.

History of the Flag

To use proper etiquette, you must truly understand the history of the United States flag. Where did it come from and who created it? Why is it red, white and blue?

The traditional story that Betsy Ross designed the original flag in 1776 has permeated our education system and is the most noteworthy story of how the flag came to be.

Some historians claim that in June 1776, a congressional committee of Gen. George Washington, Robert Morris and Betsy’s uncle, George Ross, went to her Philadelphia upholstery shop.

After collaborating on some minor design details, Ross agreed to sew the finalized emblem, and on June 14, 1777, Congress adopted it as the official U.S. flag.

Another Creator?

Many historians refute the Ross tradition, claiming that there is no official record of a congressional flag committee.

The only documented evidence naming Ross is a voucher dated May 29, 1777, showing that she was paid 14 pounds and some shillings for flags she made for the Pennsylvania Navy, according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

Old Glory

The name Old Glory was first applied to the U.S. flag by Capt. William Driver, a young captain who lived in Salem, Mass. On his 21st birthday, he was presented a beautiful flag by his mother, which he named Old Glory.

The captain took Old Glory on many sea voyages before eventually quitting sailing and settling in Nashville. Driver reportedly displayed Old Glory proudly from a rope extending from his house to a tree across the street before finally giving it to his daughter shortly before his death.

The flag remained as a precious heirloom in the Driver family until 1922, when it was sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., where it remains carefully preserved under glass.