American flag

One of the saddest memories I have after getting out of the service is when I went to a sporting event or something similar and I could only silently stand at attention and place my hand over my heart when the national anthem was performed. For my six years in the Marines, when colors sounded or the national anthem was performed, I stood at attention and saluted.

During a rendition of the national anthem, individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

That first time only placing my hand over my heart during the anthem overwhelmed me with sorrow. Sorrow that I was only showing respect as a citizen and no longer serving. I knew right at that moment, that I would regret leaving the Corps for the rest of my life.