How Can Obama Salute the Flag, Since He Never Deigned to Serve in its Defense in the Military? by REES LLOYD

November 2, 2009


 By Rees Lloyd

President Barack Hussein Obama gained a great deal of publicity last week by showing up at the airport around midnight as soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan came home to America, and their grieving families, in Flag-draped coffins.  Obama was shown in a photograph saluting as a coffin passed.  Americans expressed a variety of views pertaining to Obama’s act. Some said it honored the fallen soldiers, since he is President.
Others said that Obama, by  not barring all publicity and instead allowing himself to be photographed, exploited them to gain political support or sympathy for himself, especially since Obama did so while under considerable criticism for continuing to fail to make a decision in response to the request for additional troops made by the Commanding General  in Afghanistan that Obama, himself, appointed. 

  Many, of either view, questioned how Obama could render a military “salute,” since he himself never chose to serve in the military and put his own life and limbs at risk in defense of the Flag and the nation.  The question arises because the federal statutes setting forth Flag protocol have always limited the right to salute the flag to those serving in the military, or veterans who have served. All others are not to render a salute, but to cover their hearts with the right hand. Even veterans were not allowed to salute the Flag unless they were in uniform until 2008, when an amendment was passed to the statutes, i.e., 4 U.S. Code Section 9, authorizing veterans to render military salutes to the Flag even if not in uniform.
So, how could Obama, who never served, be photographed saluting?  He could because there is one exception to the rule, Obama, because as President he is also the Commander-in-Chief, even though he himself never served in the military of which he is Commander-in-Chief. Which is a real confidence builder.
Obama is one of only two presidents in the modern era not to have served in the U.S. military before seeking election to become Commander-in-Chief as President. The other, as might be expected, is Democrat Bill Clinton, sometimes called the “artful dodger” since he lied so skillfully to avoid the draft and have another draftee sent when Clinton’s selective service number came up during the Vietnam War.

That is, Clinton, whose teeth would fall out from the sheer shock if he ever told the truth, convinced the draft board head to delay his induction so he could take his Rhodes Scholarship in England on his promise he would serve as soon as he finished that educational opportunity. His request was granted, and the next in line went to Vietnam. However, Clinton never kept his promise to serve: Richard Nixon ended the draft;  Clinton dropped out of Oxford, never taking the degree he was excused from service to obtain; and then wrote a letter to the head of the draft board who had granted Clinton’s request for delay in induction to tell him that Clinton had tricked him into granting Clinton’s request not be drafted immediately.  Clinton stated in that letter that he, Clinton, had always despised the military and never intended to serve, and he ridiculed that Draft Board official for having been taken in and fooled by Clinton. In the interim period between that Draft Board officer’s granting Clinton’s request for a delay of induction until that officer’s receipt of Clinton’s letter laughing at him for falling for Clinton’s trickery, that officer’s own son had been killed in action in Vietnam. I don’t know if that father, who in good faith had granted Obama’s request, and who was then ridiculed and laughed at by Clinton after that Draft Official’s son did serve and was killed in action, ever forgave Clinton for Clinton’s utterly despicable lack of character. I know that I will not. Democrats who do can explain that to themselves. 

It is interesting that all the other presidents of modern era, other than Clinton and Obama, the two who have least honored the values of the Founding Fathers, not only served, but served in war time: Harry Truman; Dwight D. Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander in World War II), John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush. Each of them earned the right to salute the Flag. Obama did not. Therefore, Obama is uniquely a Commander-in-Chief of the military who never served in it, and Obama is uniquely the only American who never served who is authorized to salute at this time.
I note that many veterans, who, unlike Obama, did serve when their country was in peril, do not realize that they are now entitled to salute the Flag, even when not in uniform. For instance, there were a great many veterans wearing caps signifying their service in attendance at the gathering of the Tea Party Express in Portland on Friday afternoon at Michael’s Italian Beef at 111 Sandy at Burnside. While great respect was shown the Flag, and the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem were rendered with patriotic respect and gusto, few saluted, and instead covered their hearts with their right hands, as the code specifies is proper for non-veterans.
Therefore, for clarity as to the right of veterans to salute the flag even when not in any military uniform, and  to make clear the direction that none but those in service and veterans should salute — with, of course, the singular exception of Obama — I provide here the 2008 amendment to 4 United States Code Section 9:
  2008—Pub. L. 110–181 substituted “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.” for “all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.”

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