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A Scouter friend has told me that previous editions of the Cub Scout handbook have stated that Cubs Scouts and Boy Scouts in uniform salute the flag with the appropriate salute. When not in uniform Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts salute by placing their right hand over their heart with the Scout salute.


I am interested in whether this is true and if so what was the last edition of the handbook that stated these instructions.





Tecumseh, Kansas

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Mostly correct. Salute while in field uniform (similar to a US military salute except with two or three fingers extended). When not in field uniform but in an activity uniform most of the boys (Boy Scouts in particular) salute with the arm parallell to the ground, elbow bent, hand palm down touching the chest. In "civies", simply the hand (right)over the heart,

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Don't have access to my handbooks at present but I think (always dangerous to trust my memory)


Cub Scouts (Virtual Cub Leader's Handbook)







Above is what I described previously as a "military" style salute with two fingers.


The Boy Scout is similar only using three fingers. Now I have read such things as "only salute when wearing a hat", "do not salute when carrying a staff (stave)", etc. As for uniform restrictions, I'll get back to you when I check the handbooks and see how I did!




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That sounds familiar Accu40, but what doesn't appear in any scout book that I have ever seen are the other salutes suggested, with the exception of the congressionally approved hand over the heart.


The scout sign over the heart and the rather star trekkish one you described previously are not scout salutes or approved hand salutes for the American flag according to the flag code.


Bob White

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Acco says:


When not in field uniform but in an activity uniform most of the boys (Boy Scouts in particular) salute with the arm parallell to the ground, elbow bent, hand palm down touching the chest.


I am sitting here trying to follow these instructions, and the result is something I have never seen or heard of in my entire life. If it is the right hand and the palm is FLAT against the left side of the chest, that is just a hand over the heart. But palm down? That's a new one on me.

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In the Staff Guide for the Wood Badge for the 21ST Century in the Wood Badge Game Show. The question is asked:

What is the proper way for a Boy Scout to salute the flag when he is out of uniform?

The answer in the book reads:

The Scout sign made with the right hand, held over his heart, three fingers parallel to the ground.

None of our staff and none of the participants on our course had ever heard of this.

But as it is in the book we went with it.


Nice to see another Brit join us- Welcome.

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Well that just goes to show you how tricky urban legends can be. I have never seen such a slute described in any BSA training or program publication. More likely this was a local affectation that was missed in editing or assumed correct by the proff readers.


Does anyone know of a BSA resource that instructs this salute?




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There are salutes and there are salutes (how is that for profundity?). I know the original post concerned saluting the flag. I believe many of the other salutes described are for saluting others.


from http://www.inquiry.net/ideals/b-p/sign.htm


When to Salute

All wearers of the Traditional Scout Badge salute each other once a day. The first to see the other Pathfinder is the first to salute, irrespective of rank.


Pathfinders will always salute as a token of respect, at the hoisting of our national flag, to Pathfinder and Scout flags when carried ceremonially, at the playing of our national anthem, to the American Flag, and to all funerals.


The Salute is given by the right hand, the arm is bent at the elbow 45 degrees, and the hand, palm outwards (palm down for Seafarers), just touching the head or brim of the hat.

You only salute when you are wearing a hat; otherwise you make the Scout Sign.


The hand salute is only used when an Pathfinder is not carrying a staff, and is always made with the right hand. Saluting when carrying a staff is done by bringing the left arm smartly across the body in a horizontal position, the fingers making the Scout Sign just touching the staff.


From the Blue Water Council (MI) web site:


The Salute Is To The Flag

The Scout salute signifies respect and courtesy. It is used to salute the American Flag and as a recognition of a position of leadership. The salute throughout the world is made with the right hand , with the fingers extended to touch the cap, or forehead if no cap is worn.


When in uniform - Salute with your head covered or uncovered, either indoors or outdoors, stand at attention and salute with your right hand.


When not in uniform - During ceremonies stand at attention, place your right had over your heart. Men wearing hats should remove them and hold over the heart. At a sports event, team members wearing uniforms should uncover their heads, stand at attention and hold hat or helmet in right hand.


The National Anthem - Stand at attention, facing the flag, and salute at the first note. Hold the salute until the very last note of the anthem. If there is no flag or it cannot be seen, face the music. Stand at attention, but do not salute if the National Anthem is sung without accompaniment or is a recording.


At parades or reviews - Start your salute when the approaching flag is approximately six paces (12 feet) from you. Drop the salute when the flag is about the same distance past you. Follow this procedure when the flag is carried by mounted flag bearers or passes you on a vehicle, provided the flag is flown from a staff. A flag draped coffin rates the same honor as the flag passing in a parade. It is customary to salute when "Taps" is sounded at a military funeral.


The salute is held during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance as you face the flag. Remember, you are saluting the flag and saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.


When colors are raised - Stand at attention facing the flagpole. Salute as soon as the flag is started on its way up and hold the salute until it it at the peak. If the flag is to be flown at half-staff after first being hoisted to the peak.


At retreat - Start the salute at the moment the flag is on its way down and hold until the flag is gathered at the base of the flagstaff. If the flag is at half-staff, salute as it is first hoisted to the peak; hold the salute until it is gathered at the base.


Simply said: Salute the Flag of the United States:


When you say the Pledge of Allegiance.

The moment a flag passes in front of you at a parade.

From the moment a flag starts being raised up a pole until it reaches the top.

From the moment it starts being lowered until in the hands of the color guard.

When the flag is present and the "Star Spangled Banner" is being played.

When other flags are being presented, do not salute.




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Salute the flag!


BUT HAS ANYONE HEARD OF placing your hand across your heart and instead of a "flat palm" like we are all used to......having your hand flat across your chest with the "scout sign".


SUPPOSEDLY.....it is somewhere is very, very old Scout books of which I have none. I was just trying to find if this has been "historically" true in the very early, early years of Scouting.





aka The British Broad

Tecusmeh, Ks.

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As my late father would say, when in doubt, read the directions!


According to The Boy Scout Handbook, the three fingered salute (form Scout sign, bring hand upward until forefinger touches brim of hat or arch of right eyebrow, palm not showing) should be used to wearing your Scout uniform, with or without a hat anytime you pass the flag, it passes you or you see it being raisies or lowered, and for the Pledge of Allegiance. When not in uniform, greet the flag by placing your right hand over your heart.


Now my only comment, is that when you are wearing the Scout uniform you ARE wearing a hat. The uniform consists of the shirt, pants (or shorts), socks, belt & buckle, neckerchief (troop option) and hat (BSA twill or mesh cap or campaign hat (troop option). Now my interpretation of "troop option" for the hat and neckerchief is what kind of hat or neckerchief, not that that piece of the uniform is optional. Comments?

(This message has been edited by acco40)

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I salute in field uniform or activity uniform, both are uniforms just as dress blues and dungarees are uniforms for sailors.


Being of a nautical bent, I was taught to not salute when uncovered and to never be covered indoors (few exceptions) but neither seem to be the Scout tradition.


I remember seeing a picture of a Scout Salute while carrying a staff which was similar to what guards do in some situations. Stand at attention with staff in right hand and grounded, bring left hand across abdomen with palm parallel to ground so fingers touch staff.

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Linda - I have never heard of that kind of salute and can't find it in any of the literature we have around here. Course, the stuff I could find is not all that old either. Your best bet might be to contact the National Scouting Museum:


National Scouting Museum

Boy Scouts of America, S505

1329 West Walnut Hill Lane

Irving, TX 75038



e-mail: nsmuseum@netbsa.org


They have a historical collection and might be able to find a reference for you.


Let us know what you find!


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