A Veteran’s salute

0
482
Avitar.jpg

Our veteran population, estimated in a 2013 Gallup poll to be 19.6 million out of a nation of 317 million, is shrinking as fewer people are serving in the military. “Less than 0.5 percent of the [U.S.] population serves in the armed forces.” (Eikenberry and Kennedy, “Americans and their military, drifting apart” New York Times on 26 May 2013).  Accordingly, fewer and fewer understand the service and self-sacrifice required of our men and women in uniform. (The same 2013 Gallup Poll estimated young veterans under the age of 35 numbered roughly 1.6 million, or one-half of one percent of our nation.) As the already small numbers decrease, the visibility of veterans in general society becomes somewhat obscured. But this is not always the case.  For example, at a San Diego Padres home baseball game.

When the National Colors are presented and the National Anthem is played at Petco Park during San Diego Padres home baseball games, the announcer asks those in attendance to stand and remove their hats as the veterans in attendance salute. That is correct. A veteran not in uniform may salute during the presentation of colors and playing of the National Anthem. This came about when Section 9 of Title IV of the United States Code was amended in 2008 and 2009 to state “veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute.” Therefore, it is not surprising in veteran and military friendly Petco Park to observe the players, coaches, and umpires appropriately and respectfully standing, hats removed, and hands over their hearts during the playing of the National Anthem, while the spectators do likewise and veterans render the military hand salute.

Compare this to the scene at QualComm, when the National Colors are presented and the National Anthem is played before the start of a Chargers home football game. Helmets may or may not be removed. Head coverings like skull caps may or may not be removed.  Players and coaches may or may not be standing respectfully. Players may or may not be scratching various parts of their anatomy. Further, was a special announcement about the veterans in attendance made, let alone saluting, made? Maybe it is just another difference between MLB and NFL.

Whether or not a difference between the environments at Major League Baseball and National Football League games, the important point is that veterans may render the military hand salute during the presentation of the National Colors and playing of the National Anthem. While attending that next Padres game and hearing the announcer asking everyone to rise for the presentation of the National Colors and playing of the National Anthem, do not be surprised if that gray beard (or young man or woman) a few seats down stands ramrod straight and offers a parade deck worthy military hand salute.

You have seen the uniquely military expression of patriotism and love of country from a member of an increasingly decreasing population, from one who served his/her country with pride—a veteran.

A Veteran’s salute