Some vets oppose bill by Lee Terry on saluting flag while they're out of uniform - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 7:15 am
Some vets oppose bill by Lee Terry on saluting flag while they're out of uniform

WASHINGTON — A proposal by Rep. Lee Terry has the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion at odds over how best to display their patriotism.

The Omaha Republican introduced legislation on the anniversary of D-Day that would allow military salutes during the Pledge of Allegiance by veterans and service members who are out of uniform, broadening the instances in which that is acceptable.

“Today is an appropriate day to introduce this legislation and celebrate our vets who take deep pride in being able to honor with a military-style salute the flag they selflessly pledged to defend,” Terry said at the time.

But critics say loosening the rules could put the country on a slippery slope to every Tom, Dick and Harry in a smelly T-shirt thinking it's OK to salute the flag, even if they never served in the military.

“To see someone who is holding his bag of popcorn and wearing just a baseball hat of his favorite team and then saluting the flag could cause some confusion, maybe make them think that's an appropriate way for a civilian to respond to either the pledge or the national anthem,” said Colin Short, assistant director of the Americanism Division at the American Legion's national headquarters.

But retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ron Dupell sees it differently. After serving his country, he believes he should be able to salute the flag whenever he pleases.

“When I came back from Vietnam, I had screaming nightmares for five years,” said Dupell, 70, a Papillion resident and quartermaster for Omaha-based VFW Post 2503. “And to tell me what I can or cannot do when I've traveled to 27 countries on behalf of the United States of America … to do anything to limit the patriotic expression by a veteran, it just does not make sense.”

It was Post 2503 that first brought the issue to Terry's attention. One of the local veterans who pushed for the change has since died, and Terry said he feels an obligation to follow through in that veteran's memory.

Terry's proposal would change Title 4 of the U.S. Code, which spells out how military service members, veterans and the public should honor the American flag.

The Legion not only opposes this proposal but would also like to see lawmakers repeal similar changes to the code made in recent years.

Several years ago, Congress moved to allow veterans and military personnel out of uniform to salute during the raising, lowering and passing of the flag. Congress later did the same for the playing of the national anthem.

Dupell notes that he also is a member of the local American Legion and that at Legion meetings when everyone else puts their hands over their hearts, he salutes.

“I go against the grain,” he said.

Dupell said he finds the Legion's position curious, but according to Short it's all about preserving that special right of a veteran to render that military salute. It would be diluted if it spread to every member of the public, he said.

“Even though the intent is good, it diminishes the veteran being able to salute the flag,” Short said. “Because now random people might be saluting the flag, because who knows if somebody's a veteran or not?”

Terry's proposal was folded into the defense authorization bill approved Friday by the House. It remains unclear whether it will win approval from the Senate.

Short stressed that while the Legion is opposed to Terry's legislation, it is lobbying Capitol Hill much harder on other issues, such as getting a ban on flag burning.

“This isn't something we're up in arms about,” Short said of the saluting proposal.

Contact the writer:

202-630-4823, joe.morton@owh.com, twitter.com/MortonOWH

Contact the writer: Joseph Morton

joe.morton@owh.com    |  

Joe is The World-Herald's Washington, D.C., bureau, covering national political developments that matter most to Midlanders.

Omaha police investigate two nonfatal shootings
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
City Council to vote on adding Bluffs pedestrian safety lights
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Midlands runners ready for Boston Marathon
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
Grace: Pipe organ concert a tribute to couple's enduring love
Omaha-area jails and ERs new front line in battling mental illness
Civil rights hearing to consider voting policies in Midwest
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
It's a pursuit of pastel at Spring Lake Park's Easter egg hunt
Financial picture improving for city-owned Mid-America Center
No injuries after fire at midtown's old Mercer Mansion
29-year-old Omahan arrested for 22nd time in Lincoln
Police: Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »