Rendering Hand Salute of U.S. Flag – TITLE 4, Chapter 1, Section 9, was amended by the The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 and 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. A later amendment further authorized hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel. This was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which President Bush signed on Oct. 14, 2008.
Here is the actual text from the law:
§9. Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag
During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.
Note: No person, not having served in the military has earned the right to salute the flag and should not do so. Those who have served consider it “stolen valor”. I have seen, but not researched, the statement that those under Court Martial and those with Dishonorable Discharge lose the privilege of saluting. Respect those who have served, only they have earned the right.