How to salute like a soldier

Ever wondered why the Armed Forces salute and how to do it properly? Check out this guide

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Why do people salute?

When serving personnel salute an officer, they are acknowledging Her Majesty the Queen as Head of State and saluting the rank the officer holds (the Queen’s commission) rather than the individual themselves. When an officer returns a salute, it is done so on behalf of the Queen.

When did it start?

One theory is that in medieval Europe, knights used to raise their visors by hand to show they were friendly forces but it’s more likely to have originated from the custom of lifting a hat to a superior.

Saluting terminology

‘Throwing one up’, ‘paying respects’ or ‘paying compliments’.

Did you know?

Non-commissioned ranks do not salute each other, only those who hold the Queen’s Commission (officers).

Tradition, however, (not regulations) dictates that anyone who has been awarded a Victoria Cross should also be saluted. This is out of respect for them as holders of the most prestigious award of the British honours system.

Standards, Guidons and Colours, the coffin in funeral processions, the Cenotaph and members of the Royal Family (or Governors/Ministers to whom they delegate authority) are also saluted by the Armed Forces.

The person of lower rank should initiate the salute and maintain it until the superior has responded in kind (unless the superior officer is riding a bicycle).

It is thought that the Navy use the ‘shortest way up and down’ method because space was restricted on board.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

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Armed Forces personnel only salute when wearing regimental headdress.

Head and eyes should both be directed towards the person at who the salute is directed.

If someone is saluted and are not wearing headdress, they must come to attention instead of returning salute.

If you are carrying equipment in your right hand when passing someone who would normally expect you to salute them, it is generally deemed acceptable to ‘brace up’ or come to attention and acknowledge them verbally.

It is thought the Royal Navy salute was adapted so as not to show dirty palms when saluting. Sailors used to climb the rigging and cover their hands in tar and it was deemed disrespectful to let officers see unwashed hands.

Royal Navy

Raise the right hand quickly to your head by the shortest route (to the front of your body).

Hand is kept at an angle so that the palm is facing down so that neither the palm or back of hand is visible from the front.

Bring to a position in front of the eye.

Bicep should remain parallel to the ground.

Hand is lowered again quickly, by the shortest route.

Navy regulations state:

‘All Officers and ratings are to salute when coming on board or leaving one of Her Majesty’s ships’.

‘Female ratings are generally excused removing headgear when their male counterparts would be expected to do so (religious services or when ordinary courtesy makes it desirable)’.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

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British Army

Raise the right hand to your head by the longest route (to the right of your trunk).

Fingers and thumb aligned, palm facing outwards.

Bring to a position where the index finger is an inch above the right eye with fingertips almost touching the beret or other head dress.

Bicep should remain parallel to the ground.

Snatch the arm back down the front of the body (the shortest way).

Royal Air Force

The RAF salute is similar to that of the Army except that it is to be held an inch above and behind the right eye.

RAF regulations dictate that personnel should salute:

‘At any time when they recognise officers who are dressed in plain clothes’.

‘When wearing plain-clothes personnel are to pay and return compliments by raising the hat’.

Regulations for both the Army and RAF dictate that:

‘Personnel are to salute with the right hand unless physically unable to do so, in which case they are to salute with the left hand’.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

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How to Salute Like a Soldier


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How to Salute Like a Soldier

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How to Salute Like a Soldier



How to Salute Like a Soldier

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How To Talk Like A Korean Soldier (for fans of Descendants of The Sun)

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How to Salute Like a Soldier

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How to Salute Like a Soldier

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Rolling Thunder Demonstration: Soldier’s 4 Hour Salute

2016-06-25 Public Domain TV

In a gesture of respect for all service members past and present, Staff Sgt. TIm Chambers (Ret.) has held a 4 hour salute for the duration of the Rolling Thunder .

The IAF hand salute is exactly like that of the Indian Army, with the open palm forward and the fingers and thumb together and the middle finger almost, but not touching the hatband. The Naval hand salute, also derived from that of the Royal Navy, is different, where in the palm of the hand is not exposed and faces towards the shoulder. Its origin lies in the days of sail when copious amounts of pitch and tar were used to seal the timber hull from seawater. To protect their hands seaman wore white linen gloves but these got dirty and to prevent their dirty gloves from being seen, the hand was moved 90 degrees to become today’s naval hand salute.

The hand salute is only one form of saluting; others have the same intention, to signify peaceful intention. In the ’present arms’ position, the rifle is placed in a position where it can do no harm and is being presented away from the body as if ‘giving it away’. The sword salute points the sword tip downwards rendering the body defenseless. This form of salute is almost obsolete in the IAF as no uniform currently worn, includes the sword; it is only worn by the cadet commander of the passing out parade at the Air Force Academy to accept the Nawanagar sword of Honour. In the modern day formation fly past, aircraft fly low and slow and together in an almost ‘defenseless’ manner.

Gun Salute

The firing of gun salutes in honor of the President or Governors or to mark a special occasion is a very old custom. This custom first developed in ships at sea. In the days of sail, the guns of a ship rested at ports along the length of the gun decks. The guns were often kept fully loaded and ready for action. Firing them in salute meant that for the length of time it took to reload the guns the ship was virtually defenseless. This action showed friendly intent. As an aside, the British in their “do-gooding” days of trying to curb the Sati in India, offered to fire as many guns as a prince had wives when he visited the Governor-General if he accepted to abolish sati in his princedom. But as Philip Mason writes, it was a tame substitute and eighty-four women died with maharaja Budh Singh of Bundi, sixty-four with Ajit Singh of Jodhpur and numbers upwards of twenty were usual in the 1830s. Normally odd numbers of guns are fired with twenty-one being the maximum for the President.How to Salute Like a Soldier

Another development is the turning of one’s eyes to the right and looking into the eyes of the reviewing officer. When knights passed serfs in medieval times, the serfs lowered their heads as a token of respect. However, if they were the fighting men of the castle who followed the knights in war, they were allowed to look their superior in the face. Theirs was the honour due to the fighting men. Eyes right is a continuation of this privilege. Saluting with colours and standards dates back to the 17th century. An extract from a military work in 1639 states: “ if a king or great prince passeth by, the ensign (colour bearer) is to veil his colours close to the ground with his knee bending in token allegiance and submission”. In 1799 this practice was officially recognized in the Royal Army and continues today in the IAF. Saluting with the colours is exclusively reserved for the President however, when the IAF colours are paraded at the Air Force day parade, all members of the armed forces are to salute and those in civilian clothes to come to attention.

i am just asking because i don’t want to come off like i’m mocking them, i want to give them some form of respect.

because the other day at school a soldier was in front of me and he turned around and said hello and i said hi back but now that i think about it, should i have saluted him?

11 Answers

How to Salute Like a Soldier

As an enlisted Soldier, I can say that it’s a little weird when people salute me on the street. It’s not that I don’t appreciate their patriotism, though. I’m not a Commissioned officer, so I don’t salute them back. Enlisted only salute Commissioned Officers and Medal of Honor awardees, and Enlisted are always the ones to initiate the salute in either case. If a civilian salutes me, I certainly appreciate their sentiment, but I always feel a little awkward because I think they’re expecting a salute back. Usually I just nod to them or say hello.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Salute A Soldier

How to Salute Like a Soldier

No, you’re a civilian just saying hello was fine.

Like people have said about Officers and even so they don’t salute each other without headdress on which I highly doubt you were wearing anyways.

Yes if you saluted me even with best intentions I would think you were simply mocking to be honest

The salute is not simply an honor exchanged. It is a privileged gesture of respect and trust among soldiers. Remember the salute is not only prescribed by regulation but is also recognition of each other’s commitment, abilities, and professionalism.

Some historians believe the hand salute began in late Roman times when assassinations were common. A citizen who wanted to see a public official had to approach with his right hand raised to show that he did not hold a weapon. Knights in armor raised visors with the right hand when meeting a comrade. This practice gradually became a way of showing respect and, in early American history, sometimes involved removing the hat. By 1820, the motion was modified to touching the hat, and since then it has become the hand salute used today. You salute to show respect toward an officer, flag, or our country.

The salute is widely misunderstood outside the military. Some consider it to be a gesture of servility since the junior extends a salute to the senior, but we know that it is quite the opposite. The salute is an expression that recognizes each other as a member of the profession of arms; that they have made a personal commitment of self-sacrifice to preserve our way of life. The fact that the junior extends the greeting first is merely a point of etiquette-a salute extended or returned makes the same statement.

The way you salute says a lot about you as a soldier. A proud, smart salute shows pride in yourself and your unit and that you are confident in your abilities as a soldier. A sloppy salute might mean that you’re ashamed of your unit, lack confidence, or at the very least, that you haven’t learned how to salute correctly.

In saluting, turn your head and eyes toward the person or flag you are saluting. Bring your hand up to the correct position in one, smart motion without any preparatory movement. When dropping the salute, bring your hand directly down to its natural position at your side, without slapping your leg or moving your hand out to the side. Any flourish in the salute is improper.

The proper way to salute when wearing the beret or without headgear is to raise your right hand until the tip of your forefinger touches the outer edge of your right eyebrow (just above and to the right of your right eye). When wearing headgear, the forefinger touches the headgear slightly above and to the right of your right eye. Your fingers are together, straight, and your thumb snug along the hand in line with the fingers. Your hand, wrist, and forearm are straight, forming a straight line from your elbow to your fingertips. Your upper arm (elbow to shoulder) is horizontal to the ground.

All soldiers in uniform are required to salute when they meet and recognize persons entitled (by grade) to a salute except when it is inappropriate or impractical (in public conveyances such as planes and buses, in public places such as inside theaters, or when driving a vehicle). A salute is also rendered:

  • When the United States National Anthem, “To the Color,” “Hail to the Chief,” or foreign national anthems are played.
  • To uncased National Color outdoors.
  • On ceremonial occasions such as changes of command or funerals.
  • At reveille and retreat ceremonies, during the raising or lowering of the flag.
  • During the sounding of honors.
  • When pledging allegiance to the US flag outdoors.
  • When turning over control of formations.
  • When rendering reports.
  • To officers of friendly foreign countries.

Salutes are not required when:

  • Indoors, unless reporting to an officer or when on duty as a guard.
  • A prisoner.
  • Saluting is obviously inappropriate. In any case not covered by specific instructions, render the salute.
  • Either the senior or the subordinate is wearing civilian clothes.

In general, you don’t salute when you are working (for example, under your vehicle doing maintenance), indoors (except when reporting), or when saluting is not practical (carrying articles with both hands, for example). A good rule of thumb is this: if you are outdoors and it is practical to salute, do so. Outdoors includes theater marquees, shelters over gas station pumps, covered walkways, and other similar shelters that are open on the sides.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

The Salute

One of the most important of military courtesies is the salute. It is a respectful greeting, a sign of recognition between military persons.
It is that, and no more. There has been a good deal of misunderstanding about the salute, most of it on the part of people who don’t know how soldiers feel about it. Many civilians completely misinterpret its purpose and meaning. They take it to be an acknowledgment of the soldier’s inferiority to his superiors. Noting is further from the truth. Salutes are given and returned. They are a privilege of the military alone. Every officer salutes every other officer, just as every enlisted man salutes every officer. The highest-ranking general in the Army is required to return the salute of the greenest buck private. The fact that the subordinate salutes first is simply common-sense courtesy applied to a military expression; it is for the same reason that gentlemen step aside for ladies in doorways and younger people are introduced to their elders rather than the other way around.
The salute has an additional purpose. It is evidence of respect for authority. In the Army, an officer does not determine his own authority nor just assume as much of it as he feels he should have; his authority is prescribed and becomes his duty and responsibility whether or not he likes it. In saluting, you acknowledge respect for the position and authority of the officer who holds that position.

Persons to salute

You are required to salute all commissioned officer, both male and female, of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, and members of the Army and Navy Nurse Corps, and all warrent officers and flight officers. It is customary to salute officers of United Nations when you recognize them as such. Do not salute noncommissioned officers or petty officers.

How to salute

Make your salute smart and snappy. A half-hearted, sloppy salute gives you away as a raw recruit. Remember your dislike of a half-hearted handshake! The same principle applies to the salute.
To salute, raise your right hand smartly until the tip of your forefinger (index finger) touches your handgear, above above and slightly to the right of your right eye. Keep your thumb and fingers extended and joined, palm to the left, with your hand and wrist straight. Hold your upper arm horizontal, and your forearm inclined at an angle of 45є. At the same time turn your head and eyes toward the person or flag you are saluting. Hold the salute until returned by the person, saluted, then drop your hand smartly to your side (without smacking the side of your skirt).
This is the regulation salute. Learn how to do it properly. Practice in front of a mirror. Don’t give your salute any extra flourishes; that is simply bad taste.

When Veterans Are Allowed to Salute in Civilian Clothes

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How to Salute Like a Soldier

The military salute is a long honored tradition with the origins of its beginnings largely unknown. There are a few theories about the salute dating back to the Roman Empire days. However it came to be, there are specific rules about how and when not to salute within the U.S. military.

History of the Hand Salute

Many military historians believe that the hand salute might have begun in Rome. Even in regular society, if a citizen wanted to meet with a senator or other public official, the citizen had to demonstrate he didn’t have a weapon, and would approach with his right hand visible or raised.

Another theory suggests the practice stems from knights in armor, who traditionally raised the visors on their helmets with their right hands. Whatever its origins, the salute eventually came to be seen as a sign of respect.

It’s interesting to note that the traditional right-handed salute looks a little different in the Navy. The palm is turned downward, the thinking goes, because sailors’ gloves and hands would be dirty from working on the deck of a ship, for instance. It was perceived as insulting to show a dirty palm to a superior officer.

Through the centuries, various types of salutes have been used to honor each other, a nation’s flag, and even national leaders. For instance, the United States once used the Bellamy Salute during the Pledge of Allegiance in schools of the late 1800’s. This was a highly used salute across the country by the younger generation of the time. However, this salute looked too similar to the Nazi salute that Adolf Hitler adopted in the early 1930’s. President Roosevelt and Congress changed the Pledge of Allegiance salute to be a hand over the heart during World War II as the Bellamy salute had largely been adopted by Fascists around the world.

Uniformed MIlitary Personnel

U.S. military personnel in uniform are required to salute when they encounter someone entitled by grade or rank to a salute, such as a superior officer. There are some exceptions: When in a moving vehicle it may be impractical to salute. However, if a gate guard at a base entrance or check point sees a senior officer in a vehicle, the guard will salute as the car passes through the gate. And when in a combat situation, a salute is forbidden, since it could signal to a watching enemy who the officers are. They are more likely to be considered valuable targets by the enemy.

The salute is considered a courteous exchange of greetings, with the junior military member always saluting first. When returning or rendering an individual salute, the head and eyes are turned toward the Colors or person saluted. When in ranks, the position of attention is maintained unless otherwise directed. All military personnel are required to salute the president, in his role as commander in chief. Also regardless of rank, any recipient of the Medal of Honor is granted a hand salute even from a more senior officer.

When Saluting Is Not Required

Salutes are not rendered indoors, except in cases of formal reporting. When in formation, members don’t return a salute unless commanded to do so. The usual procedure calls for the person in charge of the formation to salute on its behalf. Even if the formation is marching holding weapons, there is a hand salute used by the leader of the formation typically with a sword or hand for the group.

If a senior officer approaches, while military personnel are gathered in a group (but not in formation), whoever notices the officer first calls the group to attention. Then, all members salute the officer, and remain at attention until they’re given permission to stand at ease, or when the officer departs.

Veterans and Saluting Out of Uniform

A provision of the 2009 Defense Authorization Act changed federal law to allow U.S. veterans and military personnel not in uniform to render the military hand-salute when the national anthem is played.

This change adds to a provision which was passed in the 2008 Defense Bill, which authorized veterans and military personnel in civilian clothes to render the military salute during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag.

Traditionally, veterans’ service organizations rendered the hand-salute during the national anthem and at events involving the national flag while wearing their organization’s headgear, although this wasn’t actually spelled out in federal law.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Veteran’s Day is the day to thank those who fought or are fighting for our freedom.

Lizzy Pinter, Staff Writer
November 15, 2017

On November 9, 2017 Pelahatchie High School hosted a Veteran’s Day Program.The PHS JROTC hosted the event. The students of both high school and middle school gathered into the auditorium to watch the program.

The speaker at the ceremony was Cadet Sergeant Gabbi Walters and the Pelahatchie JROTC Color Guard included Blaine White, Maria Banuelas, Jessica Smith, and Jose Banuelas.

To start the program the audience stood and recited the Pledge and participated in the singing of the National Anthem. After being told to be seated, the program began.

The speaker Gabbi Walters told the story of how Veteran’s Day became a national holiday and what the day really stands for.

Several people misinterpret Veteran’s Day for Memorial Day. Memorial Day is when Americans honor those soldiers who died in combat, but Veteran’s Day is when citizens honor those either serving in the military now or who have retired.

They then played a video of the oldest living soldier who fought in World War II. The veteran shared insight on how he had made it this long and what it is that keeps him going. He gave tips to those watching that will help them stay positive and mentally strong.

The next thing played was a video of Ronald Reagan giving a speech on what America means and what America stands for.

Maleigh Edwards, a student who attended the program, quoted, “The program overall was touching and powerful. It really gave me pride to say that ‘I am an American.’”

The program ended with the playing of the Taps. Taps was played during the Civil War when it was time to put the soldier’s lights out and go to bed.

It seems like a gesture of such respect, but i worry that I haven’t “earned” it. Would this be recognized as respectful or not?

I’m a democrat, and my desire is to salute, not spit. I am not alone.

16 Answers

How to Salute Like a Soldier

I was a soldier and I am an independent conservative. If you being a civilian saluted me I would return the salute and silently be appreciative.

I support ALL military and all forms of volunteering and community service. Especially blood and organ donors.

Respect is a two way street and there is nothing that says democrats cannot be in the military.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

I once saluted my dad, a Koran War hero, career reservist, and federal law enforcer. He ripped me a new one telling me that until i entered the service, i had no right to salute him (this wasn’t the person he normally was, so i took it as him having a bad day and reacting to me busting his chops). That being said, I come from a family of moderate democrats who are all teachers or law enforcers, and many ex-servicemen (myself included). I guess some don’t realize that there is a difference between Middle of the road and left wing. This isn’t the day or place to get into a political discussion.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

I would say just a hand shake and a honest thank you would work just fine. If your a vet I would say a salute would be a nice gesture, but if not it might seem a little a awkward. Either way thank you for being willing to show support.

Never far from our hearts…

Like A Soldier

December 18, 2010 by Donna

I have to share something that I have not shared with many as of yet.

On the Tuesday before my father passed away, I had received the call from his visiting nurse in Florida, needing my permission to have him sent to the emergency room. He had not been doing well since the night before, and she was very upset & worried about him. As you could imagine, I was too.

When I hung up with her, I sat at my kitchen table, just staring at nothing with an empty pit inside. I finally reached for the TV remote, trying hard not to dwell until she would call me back later.

The TV was set to A&E, just about noon. An episode of CSI Miami was ending (one of my dad’s favorites, but I personally still find David Caruso a bit cheesy with his tacky lines)

I was not even looking at the TV, but as soon as it came on, a song began playing, starting with a strum of the guitar. I instantly knew it was Johnny Cash, but did not recognized the song. When I glanced at the TV, I saw a very sad scene. It seems that a young Marine had died, and the scene was showing his full military funeral, complete with the folding of the flag, and a 21 gun salute. I began to cry, for deep inside, I guess I just knew that I was meant to see this.

I wish I could find that exact scene to share, but if you listen to this song, you will clearly understand why the words are all so touching. The video below is the only one I could find with the exact version I heard.

My dad was also told he should have died a hundred times by now, and yet even more heart breaking to me is this line:

I’m just thankful for the journey
And that I’ve survived the battles
And that my reward for victory is you

My father has told me just this in many ways over the years. I think it will always make me cry.

Like a Soldier

With the twilight colors falling
And the evening laying shadows
Hidden memories come stealing from my mind
As I feel my own heart beating out
The simple joy of living
I wonder how I ever was that kind

But the wild road I was rambling
Was always out there calling
You said a hundred times I should’ve died
Then you came down and touched me

And lifted me up with you
So I believe it was the road I was meant to ride

I’m like a soldier getting over the war
Like a young man getting over his crazy days
Like a bandit getting over his lawless ways
I don’t have to do that anymore
I’m like a soldier getting over the war

Nights and days that aren’t remembered
And pain that’s been forgotten
And other things I choose not to recall
There are faces that come to me
That I thought were long forgotten
Faces that I wish would not come back at all

But in my dream’s parade of lovers
From the other times and places
There’s not one that matters now, no matter who
I’m just thankful for the journey
And that I’ve survived the battles
And that my reward for victory is you

I’m like a soldier getting over the war
Like a young man getting over his crazy days
Like a bandit getting over his lawless ways
I don’t have to do that any more

Individual Freedom ♦ Anti-Socialism ♦ God Bless America

I really love it when famous actors go out of their way to support our veterans.

It’s crazy for me to think that at any given moment there’s a number of soldiers somewhere on this earth in fear for their life, and it’s all done for people like me.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Gary Sinise has a history of showing public support for the troops. Compare this to many Hollywood stars who curse our troops and you can see why Sinise was recently awarded the Bradley Prize.

I hope that more actors and actresses come out and show their support. There are many organizations supporting our veterans and troops, and these organizations are struggling to stay above water.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Breitbart – Actor Gary Sinise appeared on ABC’s This Week on Sunday to discuss the impact of one of his most famous roles on his work as the founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation, which has been helping military service members and their families since 2011.

The 61 year-old Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders star famously played Vietnam veteran Lt. Dan in the 1994 Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump, earning a nomination himself for the role.

Sinise said on This Week that he has been “actively involved” in veterans’ groups going all the way back to the ’70s, particularly with Vietnam veterans’ groups, because he has family members among them.

“I didn’t know until after September 11, though, when we had this new generation of Lieutenant Dans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, that the role would continue to play a part in my life,” Sinise said.

Of his famous movie character, Sinise said that Lt. Dan is “OK in the end, and that’s what we want for all our wounded coming back from the war.”

“I always say that we can never do enough for our veterans,” the actor added. “We can always try to do more.”

The Oscar-nominated actor founded the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 and has since launched various programs aimed at supporting veterans and first responders. The foundation includes programs like R.I.S.E., which provides homes, mobility devices, and specially adapted vehicles to wounded service members, and Serving Heroes, which serves hearty American meals to veterans at major travel hubs.

Sinise has also taken his Lt. Dan Band overseas to boost morale on American military bases across the world and founded the Invincible Spirit Festivals, day-long events with live music and food in celebration of service members’ achievements, at military hospitals throughout the country.

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Thanks for the growing support!

Published on Sep 24, 2014 by Dan Evon

How to Salute Like a Soldier

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President Obama is receiving a lot of flak today for giving a “latte salute” to two soliders while stepping off of Air Force One.

Obama was holding a cup of coffee when he stepped off of Air Force One in New York City. A few marines were waiting for the president at the bottom of the steps so Obama raised his hand, while holding his latte, and gave a salute to his troops.

It was the latte salute heard around the world.

The incident, which was posted to the White House’s Instagram page, was seen as severely disrespectful by several people. The comment section of the video quickly filled up with comments calling the “latte salute” “unpresidential,” “classless” and “inappropriate.”

Do you have a problem with President Obama’s latte salute? Here are some reactions from Twitter.

#lattesalute truth of the matter is anyone who’s been in the service can recall numerous times an officer did not return salute #ithappens

Was everyone this upset when Bush saluted w/ his dog in hand? Or is it jut because it’s Obama? #LatteSalute

#LatteSalute why is this even a thing?? Aren’t there more important events in the world happening?

The #LatteSalute is symbolic of the degradation of the honor of this office under Obama, and shows his lack of respect for the military.

Yahoo News notes that while it is protocol for members of the US military to salute the Commander in Chief, it is not required for the commander in chief to salute back. There are no rules, at least to my knowledge, about saluting while holding a cup of coffee. But we’re guessing that it’s frowned upon.

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How to Salute Like a Soldier

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How to Salute Like a Soldier

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How to Salute Like a Soldier

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The short answer: tradition.

Perhaps the Wikipedia article on salutes will clear things up.
posted by zamboni at 1:12 PM on September 13, 2012

It’s a matter of the style of salute chosen by that particular service and country: US military members salute differently than British because US military customs differ. Salutes vary for exactly the same reasons that marching styles (for instance, the WWII German Army and ‘goosestepping’), uniforms and more vary from country to country.

The Boy Scouts have a prescribed and proper way to salute; it’s different from the Girl Scouts, but that doesn’t make it better or more correct: just different.
posted by easily confused at 1:18 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

The two styles you’re talking about aren’t just preferred by Brits vs. Americans, they’re the proper way to do it in those respective militaries. As for why there are different ways, there are many stories, but no one really knows.

Very occasionally, you’ll see a Brit rendering an American-style salute or vice versa — this is usually either a goof (when one person juuust barely outranks another, you can see some really over-the-top ornate ritual saluting) or a mental misfire (I once poked myself in the eye hard while saluting, for no reason other than sometimes people just screw things up). Also, when an American salutes a Brit, he or she should do so in the American style, but some people will adopt the local custom just for the hell of it.
posted by Etrigan at 1:29 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Does it have to do with whatever branch you’re in?

In the UK it certainly does. The British Army and RAF salute in the palm-out way you’ve noticed; the Royal Navy salutes the way American forces do.
posted by asterix at 1:31 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Short answer: Saluting in the US military standardized around the way the Continental Army– George Washington’s army– did it. During the American Revolution, the few people with any “real” military knowledge on the rebel side were a handful of French and Polish professional officers who acted as “military advisers” to the untrained Americans. Men like Lafayette, Casimir Pulaski, and Thaddeus Kosciuszko are probably the most famous of this bunch, although there were others. They taught saluting, marksmanship, volley fire and close-order drill they way they had been taught in their home countries. Thus the American saluting tradition is based mostly on the continental (European) traditions of France to a lesser extent other land armies. The British saluted a different way. Other posters have said neither one is right or wrong– just different traditions. Urban myth: They say that the British open-handed salute evolved because knights in armor were lifting the visors on their plate-mail helmets to show their faces and demonstrate their friendly intentions. To me, this seems like a historical justification-after-the-fact. Plate mail was always just too rare.

tldr: Americans salute the “French” way. Brits salute the “British” way.
posted by seasparrow at 2:14 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was taught never to show any part of the palm of my hand when saluting (Norwegian military).

Practically, it’s useless and meaningless; it does, however, become important in the microcosm that the military feels it has to be to ensure the loyalty of its soldiers.

Like a reality show where everything is engineered to be mundane, boring or just shit.
posted by flippant at 4:31 PM on September 13, 2012

If there are other ways performed by soldiers of other cultures I’d love to hear about those too.

The Polish army salute is quite distinctive, with only two fingers extended.

Here’s a straight dope thread on the question.
posted by pompomtom at 7:23 PM on September 13, 2012

Water Salute – Touching Airport Tradition

The water salute is a touching airport tradition to honor military veterans, foreign dignitaries and new airline service. Salutes typically involve two firefighting rigs spraying arcs of water over an arriving or departing flight. It is a sign of respect, honour and gratitude. Each water cannon salute, which lasts about two minutes, can use as much as 3,000 gallons of water, so it does involve airport fire department resources.

A water salute consists on placing an even number of ARFF vehicles, namely crash tenders with powerful water cannons, on each side of a taxiway, pumping water to create a high arch. It can also be performed by three vehicles forming a triangle, with their water cannons’ stream meeting at the centre.

Here are the main reasons for giving a water salute:

  • For a new airline company operating out of the airport for the first time;
  • For a new airplane operating commercially for the first time;
  • If the Captain of the airplane or an ATC member is retiring;
  • If the airline is closing down the route and its the last flight of that airline from that particular airport.

No one knows exactly when and where did water salutes in airports start. It is well known, though, that back to the days of the ocean liners it was common for fireboats and tugsto spray them with their water cannons when they were leaving or entering a port. So, water salute is not unique to airplanes alone and it is also given for ships as well. The idea must have come from there. Water salutes began being a common practice in the 1990s, when Salt Like City International Airport started saluting retiring Delta Air Lines pilots by creating a water arch beneath which the aircraft would pass.

Here is a video on how it looks from the inside of a cockpit of a Boeing 737 during a water salute.

How to Salute Like a Soldier How to Salute Like a Soldier How to Salute Like a Soldier How to Salute Like a Soldier How to Salute Like a Soldier Source

Often times I will see a National Guardsman or other military personnel (active or veteran) while out in public. Is it ok or proper to salute said soldier or veteran?

13 respuestas

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Unless you are a veteran yourself – a salute is a breach of protocol.

Much better to simply thank them.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

How To Salute A Soldier

No. The proper salute for a civilian for the flag is hand over heart, head cover removed for males, facing the flag. Only military personnel in uniform are supposed to salute the flag (although veterans groups are trying to change this to anyone currently serving or veterans as well, no matter the dress). Since soldiers only salute in certain situations and only to appropriate people, a civilian should not salute them. You can place a soldier in an awkward situation by saluting improperly. If they are not in formation and you can speak to them, a handshake and a “thank you” will suffice. A smile and a nod will do when too far away or not the proper situation to shake hands.

There is a movement afoot to show respect and honor the Military members and Veterans. Place you right hand over your heart as though you are reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Slowly (but not TOO slowly) drop your hand down to your right side. I’ve seen some sites that refer to this as the Honor Salute.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Why not, as a civilian you can do what you want. I would see it as a sign of respect and it don’t get better than that. If you saluted me, I would return it.

FORT BELVOIR, Virginia — The Army is now running its Soldier Integration Facility, a kind of crossroads between the high-tech conceptual ways in which scientists go after warfighting problems and the different programs that actually build gear.

Much like a race car garage, where mechanics might pull down high-engineering ideas to continually tweak cars for test runs and races, those running the SIF want to see it testing ideas in the virtual world and then making physical versions of gear that can be handled.

Those items would then continue in development by the larger programs that get gear built in quantity.

New Army research institute will focus on soldier and squad performance

The lab will combine efforts of multiple laboratories that work on soldier performance.

Army Times recently toured the facility and ran through a brief room-clearing exercise in an augmented reality scenario, using early prototype stand-ins for the Integrated Visual Augmentation System.

The IVAS, which is fast approaching its third major prototype version in about a year, is seen as a do-it-all goggle that will provide soldiers night vision, target acquisition, internal and external comms links, and navigation data.

The scenario, in the Squad Immersive Virtual Trainer, allowed an Army Times reporter to experience real-time feedback on shooting, use of other weapons such as hand grenades and an after-action instant replay in which squad members could see exactly who shot what, when and where.

The device, which is still under development, can scan an area, be it the woods outside the barracks, an official training site or a motor pool squad bay. That data is loaded into a laptop and in about 20 to 30 minutes, users can begin dragging and dropping everything from IEDs to enemy soldiers, civilians, barricades, even dogs for a realistic and evolving landscape.

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And evolving is the right word.

Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts told Army Times that developers are working on algorithms that will help the enemy avatars adapt and improve their fighting ability, to the benefit of individual soldiers and squads using the system.

“If you think you can suddenly become an expert,” said Potts, the head of Program Executive Office Soldier. “The avatars will begin to react to how you are approaching this thing.”

The IVAS is just one example of a product that’s being built for soldiers and will be tested here.

Another goal for the Soldier Integration Facility is to achieve a company-sized communications network inside the building, even virtually, so that they can model how communications are being sent and received.

But more importantly, they can determine what impact each new data-driven device is having on the squad, platoon and company networks, said Col. Troy Denomy, program manager close combat squad.

Denomy noted that the facility will have a 3D printer, and design software and hardware to put items to the test and adjust on the fly.

The goal is to bring in those technologies that may help the soldier, he said, and “get a quick, will this thing work? And does it provide value?” before investing millions or billions in a new device.

The Soldier Integration Facility isn’t a program office, the more traditional, long-term entities that build, put out and improve upon gear that’s going to be part of the soldier kit for years.

It exists, Denomy said, to solve problems for the program offices.

They’ve partnered with the Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center in Natick, Massachusetts, Night Vision Labs at Belvoir, Maneuver Battle Labs at Fort Benning, Georgia, and others to field requests for their problems and operate as a quick-hit place for evaluations that can save the others time or get them feedback.

One initiative that will pull together a lot of current efforts is squad lethality metrics, Potts said.

The effort, “Measuring and Advancing Soldier Tactical Readiness and Effectiveness,” begun in 2018 has continued under its new designator. And the S2PRINT effort has now become the Soldier/Squad Performance Research Institute.

That program and a new Soldier Squad Performance Institute at Natick will ultimately give commanders a kind of dashboard to monitor the biofeedback and performance of individual soldiers and units at or below the company level.

As Potts pointed out, taking those measures and seeing how a soldier or squad performs can help a commander better decide how to use the formations they have.

For instance, the best squad for clearing might be the first to call up, but not if the sensor shows they’ve got very little gas in the tank and are about to crash physically, he said.

And the race car analogy goes on.

“I’ve watched NASCAR, I’ve watched guys lose races,” Potts said.

A lead racer might look like he’s going to finish on top, but then doesn’t listen to his pit crew and get refueled or reset.

The Soldier Integration Facility also gives developers a way to connect with outside groups, such as industry, Potts said. He’s coined the term “problem sets,” which are ways to pull out pieces of requirements that the PEOs are trying to provide.

The SIF can become a place where those items can be sent to industry and good solutions can have their tires kicked to see if they’re race ready.

About Todd South

Todd South is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War. He has written about crime, courts, government and military issues for multiple publications since 2004. In 2014, he was named a Pulitzer finalist for local reporting on a project he co-wrote about witness problems in gang criminal cases. Todd covers ground combat for Military Times.

Posts Tagged ‘Salute A Soldier’

Saluting A Few Soldiers

Since the Memorial Day Weekend is early this year, I thought I’d post a few pictures a little early also.

I tried for all the branches of the military since I have family in them all.



AFIR: 000-164-854_0008
WHO: FLTLT Shane Calliess, ARDU Flight Test Engineer in Fast Jet Flight. Subject of ridicule for being nominated (by brother) for local radio SAFM Contest – Hunk of the Year.
WHAT: In flying clothing in front of primary flying platform.
WHEN: 18 Aug 2003
WHERE: ARDU Flightline.
WHY:PR: Home Towner for Air Force News Story.

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ title=”air frce” src=”″ alt=”air frce” srcset=” 450w, 150w, 300w, 600w” sizes=”(max-width: 450px) 100vw, 450px” />*


And in case I missed a branch, a pic to cover them all.

Asked by Wiki User

Wiki User
January 22, 2010 10:48AM
2010-01-22 10:48:40

A soldier who is physically unable to salute with his or her right hand may render a salute with the left hand.

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Dear Grateful American,

You can give a severely wounded soldier like Matthew Keil the dignity to decide how to honor his wife this Mother’s Day. And you can send the wives of these heroes a special Mother’s Day card to show your appreciation.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

You see, when Matthew went off to fight on enemy soil — he did so to protect our way of life.

When a sniper shot Matthew in the neck in Ramadi, Iraq, his (and his family’s) way of life was forever changed.

No longer could he be the father or husband that he wanted to be. Because of his wounds, he nearly died and was left a quadriplegic – spending his days confined to a wheelchair . . .

. . . It’s possible he may not be able to ever work again.

Suddenly. Tracy, his wife and mother of their young daughter, was thrust into a role neither she nor her husband could have ever imagined. In addition to tending to the child’s needs, she now had to handle the honey-do list, take care of her broken husband and provide financially for the family.

Wounded heroes must often wait up to 18 months to receive their first disability check. The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, with the generous help of grateful Americans like you, provides an emergency bridge for the families of these soldiers returni n g from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Because of our donors’ generous support, Tracy and Matthew Keil have received enough help to get by.

“The Coalition provided enough financial relief within weeks of my husband’s injury and came to our aid when we didn’t know where else to turn.”

This is a much more common problem than you would think.

. . . which is why I am asking you to help give a severely wounded soldier, like Matthew, the dignity to decide how to honor his wife this Mother’s Day.

With your generous, tax-deductible donation, he can thank his wife in any number of ways:

  • $120 allows him to send his wife to a local spa
  • $90 allows him to get a baby sitter for the night and take his wife out to a nice restaurant
  • $60 allows him to order in a nice meal for his wife and kids
  • $30 allows him to take his wife out to the movies or send her flowers
  • …Or send whatever amount you’re comfortable with and it will be combined with others donations

Please click here to donate now and send a Mother’s Day card to show your appreciation, as Mother’s Day is right around the corner.

My name is Major General John Singlaub. I parachuted into Nazi-occupied France during WWII to prepare French Resistance fighters for the Allied invasion, trained Chinese guerrillas for operations against the Japanese, ran covert operations against the North Koreans and the Chinese, and commanded all U.S. Special Operations Forces in Southeast Asia.

Now I’m working with the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, an excellent nonprofit organization that provides emergency aid to our troops who have been severely wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Please do not delay — donate now and send a mother like Tracy a special Mother’s Day card!

I know with your support, we can help our wounded heroes give their wives the Mother’s Day they deserve.

Thank you and God bless you this Mother’s Day.

With Respect and Gratitude,

Major General John K. Singlaub
US. Army (Ret.)

TODAY THE WORDS are I SHALL REMEMBER YOU. This holiday especially, even though some of us still work on this day while others get to relax and enjoy celebration, is one for all of us, no matter where or what we do on this day, to take more than a few seconds and whisper to all fallen soldiers worldwide, not just America “I shall remember you”.

I would like to step outside the USA boundaries and give us something to ponder on this Memorial Day. A soldier is a soldier! A soldier is also a son or daughter of parents and when they came into this world, the entire world lit up in the same parents eyes.

God sees beyond nationality, ethnicity, social circles, wealth or poverty, and God tells us to love all people. With this in mind, God doesn’t agree with mistreating others and does not agree with evil in any form, shape, or religion. This may cause confusion to many. When a soldier gets an order it is an order and he will fight, he will save lives, he will rescue and/or destroy. He is not carrying out his personal feelings sometimes but is being a true soldier. So many times, in the heat of the battle, opposing soldiers have found themselves in a predicament and did a valorous deed and actually assisted his “enemy”. What is hard for all of us to understand is that war is the enemy, not the actual soldier. What is harder to understand; the soldier has to and will respond to enemy fire or combat without seeing the soldier as a human being. War, in any form, is a tragedy for so many and cannot be taken lightly. If, we as God’s people, can figure out a way to avoid war and share love for all mankind; we can say, “I shall remember” and remember how we were able to lie down like that lamb and the lion together (technically not the way it is actually stated as you will see below) in God’s love.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Happy Memorial Day to all members of the military, family and friends of those who have sacrificed and paid the highest price so that we can look around today and enjoy God’s beauty and freedom to breathe a sigh of relief and peace.


Isaiah 11:6 King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

(C) copyright 2020 Arline Lott Miller. The material here copyrighted, use only by permission. Third party material including photos are sourced to original location if known for credit references.

How to Salute Like a Soldier


The remains of Army Pfc. William V. Giovanniello passed through Sussex County Saturday on their way to Port Jervis, N.Y., where the young soldier from Brooklyn who was killed during the Korean War will be laid to rest among family.

The remains of Army Pfc. William V. Giovanniello passed through Sussex County Saturday on their way to Port Jervis, N.Y., where the young soldier from Brooklyn who was killed during the Korean War will be laid to rest among family.

Giovanniello’s unit was attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Force and Korea’s People’s Army on April 25, 1951. Afterward, Giovanniello was declared missing in action.

Giovanniello’s remains were identified in May, when the POW/MIA Accounting Agency was finally granted permission to exhume an unidentified set of remains known until then as “Unknown X-1219.”

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Its never too late to pick up a pen!

War is terrifying. So are some of our lives. I salute thee, warriors of nations, keepers of peace and our fiery protectors. That speck-less camouflaged uniform adorns you well, but are you troubled by the scars beneath?

The battlefield is not for the faint-hearted. The heavy breaths of a comrade, the sweat laden earth all around, the frayed nerves, the constant rat-a-tat of machine guns, the anxious shouts of a superior, the carnal instinct to survive, the scare of a landmine, bloodied body of a friend and cries of help all around ought to give anyone a reason to start a thought process in the lines of, ‘ Why did I ever sign up for this?’. No, definitely not all of us. A select few march on this treacherous path. We are the naive inhabitants, the common man and we see blood, gore, despair and loss, but not them. They see pride, honor, lives and duty. They are a cut above the rest. They brave their lives and the wars. Not me. This life is the only war I will wage right now. The outcome? Bits of shrapnel beneath my speck-less camouflaged uniform.

A lifetime is an eternity. We ought to be growing gracefully. Physically, mentally and emotionally. But i will be damned if that makes a strong case for any of us. Physicality is a given, our body being the temple of perfection personified if groomed the right way. Mental prowess is but an aspect of time. The more years you amass, the bigger your pay checks and longer your cars. We humans tend to get this right the first time, no matter how teeny tiny one’s brain is. Then comes the emotional quotient, the greatest puzzle of them all, the most sinister of the gifts of the Gods and definitely each one’s Achilles’ heel. How am I supposed to get away from its intimidating maws? I simply cannot. There are no diversions, just the simplicity of a straight road that becomes the point of my curses for the first time ever. The personal front intimidates!

The most popular origin story of the modern military salute dates back to the Roman Republic in 509 BCE. It’s a very compelling theory, but is it true? Let’s break it down.

It is said that during antiquity — sorry, the olden days — assassinations were common, so citizens and subordinates were required to approach officials with their fighting hand, the right hand, raised to demonstrate that it was not carrying a weapon. Others say that the Romans would slap their chest and raise their arm in tribute to demonstrate allegiance.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Not that this rules out the theories — they do make sense. Still, it wasn’t until the 1600s that English military records mention the salute, calling it a formal act that “was to be by removal of headdress.” In 1745, the procedure was amended to simply have troops “clap their hands to their hats and bow as they pass by.”

Also read: 13 awful hand salutes that don’t even come close

How to Salute Like a Soldier

This is how all British salutes look to me.

The British Army and, later, the Royal Air Force, would develop a salute with the palm facing outwards, but the Royal Navy began to turn their palm downwards, allegedly because the men working on ships had dirty palms and it was considered disrespectful to display them. One popular tale cites Queen Victoria as the one behind the downward-facing-palm, after she was saluted with a grimy hand.

When the United States declared its independence from the throne, we brought military customs across the Atlantic, and by the time of the Revolutionary War, the salute became the most expedient form of protocol. The USO reported that, according to the Armed Forces History Museum, today’s standard salute was in place by 1820.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

That’s actually pretty solid, Angel.

Though there are a few variations between branches, overall, the United States military still maintains this salute today: right arm parallel with the floor, straight wrist and hand, middle finger touching the brim of the hat or the corner of the eyebrow, and palm facing downward or even inward.

The salute should be a smooth motion up and down the gigline, with the individual of lower rank raising their salute first and lowering it last. Oh, and remember, “any flourish in the salute is improper.”

Of course, cool guys have their fun.

More reading: 6 of the worst times to salute officers

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Superheroes can ignore giglines.

In addition to superior commissioned and warrant officers, the following individuals are always entitled to a military salute: The President of the United States, officers of allied foreign countries (good luck learning their rank system), and Medal of Honor recipients — I actually didn’t know that one.

In America, the military salute is protected by the First Amendment. Anyone can salute anyone, really. You can salute a veteran when they’re in civilian attire. it’s just not mandatory or even customary. And it can actually be a little awkward if they’re not expecting it.

But in other countries, there are legal ramifications behind certain salutes. In Germany, for example, the straight-arm “Heil Hitler” salute is illegal and punishable by up to three years in jail. It’s not uncommon for tourists to be detained for performing the salute for photos, and one man was sentenced to jail for teaching his dog Adolf to give the Hitlergruss on command. . Yeah.

Today, the salute is a gesture of mutual respect, given and reciprocated, and whether the origin stories are true, the salute nonetheless remains a symbol of honor — and reassurance that you’re not holding a weapon.

Once upon a time, presidential salutes weren’t even a thing. That all changed in the 1980s, with President Ronald Reagan, and ever since then, it seems like each president has had an awkward fail while delivering one. If you need proof, look no further than these photos of President Donald Trump saluting compared to past presidents.

Along the way, you’ll notice something: Technically, all of the presidents salute military personnel incorrectly.

Like every president since Reagan, Trump routinely salutes military members, whether it’s while stepping on or off Marine One — the presidential helicopter — or while acknowledging parading officers, as the president did during his inauguration.

But there’s a reason why the words “since Reagan” are worth noting. Many historical accounts about when it became common for presidents to salute military members — and why — trace the practice back to President Reagan. Those accounts also all pretty much agree on one thing: President Reagan pretty much made the whole thing up.

For that reason alone, the salutes are (very low-key) a taboo thing to do. Like, seriously.

In December 2008, Reuters columnist David Alexander described the subject of presidential salutes as a “thorny debate.” A year later, Smithsonian magazine editor Carey Winfrey — a former Marine Corps lieutenant — wrote in The New York Times about how presidential salutes had “conflicted” him for a while.

For starters, Winfrey laid out how Marine Corps instructors told him, “you never salute without a cover,” or a hat. So, by that logic, your everyday regular salute that you see from President Trump is, well, irregular.

The salute of presidents has also been criticized as a gesture that “represents an exaggeration of the president’s military role.” But Trump specifically has been blamed of a different exaggeration when it comes to salutes.

If there was one common critique from those who were skeptical of the president’s recent trip to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, it was a worry that the summit would legitimize Kim, and images from the meeting would serve as an effective propaganda tool. Sure enough, North Korean state media did indeed broadcast images of Trump and Kim, which is no surprise, really. What is a surprise is the fact that one of those images is of Trump saluting a North Korean general.

And while North Korean media has a reputation for doctoring footage, this particular video seems authentic and, at the very least, not the best look for the president.

If there’s one person who was aware that the salutes are an irregularity, it’s the man who started the trend himself: President Reagan. During a speech before military members in Iceland in 1986, Reagan — himself a former member of the Army Reserves — explained why he bent the rules on saluting. He said,

I know all the rules about not saluting in civilian clothes and so forth, and when you should or shouldn’t. But then when I got this job and I would be approaching Air Force One or Marine One and those marines would come to a salute and I — knowing that I am in civilian clothes — I would nod and say hello and think they could drop their hand, and they wouldn’t. They just stood there.

Reagan then said he arrived at a solution: “Uh, can’t I just do this if I want?”

So, I said to the Commandant — I said, ‘Look, I know all the rules about saluting in civilian clothes and all, but if I am the Commander in Chief, there ought to be a regulation that would permit me to return a salute.’ And I heard some words of wisdom. He said, ‘I think if you did, no one would say anything.’ So, if you see me on television and I’m saluting, you know that I’ve got authority for it now and I do it happily.

The rest was history from there. The presidential salute went from seemingly nonexistent to something president have to do, even though there’s a case to be made that they shouldn’t.

Reagan even felt it was so important that Time magazine has an account of the former president teaching President Bill Clinton how to salute, before the latter entered office in 1993.

And yet can bet that when Reagan’s successor — his vice president George H.W. Bush — entered office, the elder Bush kept up the new tradition of returning military salutes. Even after exiting the White House, former presidents return salutes.

The photo below, for example, shows Bush Sr. saluting while passing by a soldier on the day President Obama was inaugurated.

Now take all that, and consider one of the most trivial “controversies” of the President Barack Obama’s tenure, his “latte salute.”

In 2014, Obama’s White House posted a video on Instagram of the president saluting two military members after hopping of Marine One, with a cup of coffee in his hand.

It was criticized as “disrespectful” by the likes of Fox News’ Karl Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush.

“Look, he knows there are going to be two Marines at the bottom of Marine One when he gets off,” Rove told Sean Hannity at the time, “and the idea that I’m going to just jaunt out there with my chai tea, and give them the old … you know it’s not a latte salute, it’s a chai salute, because he drinks chai tea, but I mean please, how disrespectful was that?”

Meanwhile, others noted the obvious: The presidential salute is technically a made up thing in the first place.

So, whether it’s Trump saluting without a hat, Obama saluting with a coffee cup, or Bush clumsily saluting with his dog in hand, just remember one thing. All of them probably wouldn’t be saluting anyway, if it wasn’t for Ronald Reagan, a true trendsetter.

A video showing President Obama boarding a helicopter without saluting a nearby Marine has been shared with the unfounded claim that the pilot refused to let him stay onboard.

  • Published 1 April 2016

How to Salute Like a Soldier


A pilot refused to let President Obama onboard a helicopter after he failed to salute a Marine.

Collected via Email, April 2016


How to Salute Like a Soldier


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Marine One is the call sign of any United States Marine Corps aircraft carrying the President of the United States, but the name is typically used to refer to a specific helicopter used to ferry the President to and from takeoff and landing sites of Air Force One, or to carry the President on short trips and/or to locations lacking adequate landing facilities for fixed-wing aircraft.

On 24 May 2013, the following footage of President Obama boarding Marine One en route to Annapolis, Maryland, was published by several major media news outlets:

Marine One is typically accompanied or met on the ground by at least one Marine in full dress uniform, and the clip embedded above shows President Obama climbing the steps up to the helicopter while seemingly paying no mind to the nearby Marine guard (who saluted his approach), conversing briefly with the flight crew, then exiting the aircraft and jogging down the steps to re-approach and acknowledge the Marine before reboarding Marine One:

Many news outlets, such as ABC News and CNN, accompanied this video with articles speculating that President Obama had “forgotten” to salute the Marine and had disembarked the helicopter in order to address him:

The president may have forgotten something as he boarded Marine One this morning.

On his way to the U.S. Naval Academy graduation ceremony on Annapolis, Md., President Obama didn’t return the salute of the marine standing guard at the door of Marine One, as he climbed the steps to the helicopter cabin.

Obama soon ducked his head out, waved to the pilot, and jaunted back down the stairs to address the marine, shaking his hand. In the short video clip, one can’t hear the two men talking, so it’s unclear what exactly was said. A faint smile appeared to cross the marine’s face as they exchanged brief words.

Within a few years, this video was being shared with the claim that President Obama had been forced to disembark Marine One at the insistence of its pilot, who supposedly refused to carry the chief executive until he went back out and “saluted” the Marine attendant. These claims originated without any attendant additional information about the incident and were based on nothing more than speculative assumptions about the silent video footage.

Actually, no regulation specifies that the President of the United States, a civilian who holds the position of Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military, should salute (or return the salutes of) military personnel. In fact, U.S. Army regulations state that neither civilians nor those wearing civilian attire (both of which describe the President of the United States) are required to render salute:

The President of the United States, as the commander in chief, will be saluted by Army personnel in uniform.

Civilian personnel, to include civilian guards, are not required to render the hand salute to military personnel or other civilian personnel.

Salutes are not required to be rendered or returned when the senior or subordinate, or both are in civilian attire.

Although other presidents have rendered salutes from time to time on special occasions (such as awards ceremonies or troop reviews), the returning of presidential salutes did not become commonplace until President Reagan broke with protocol and tradition and began the practice in 1981, as Reagan himself explained a few years later in remarks to U.S. service members and their families stationed in Iceland:

I can’t resist telling you a little story that I’ve just told the marine guard at the Embassy. The story has to do with saluting. I was a second lieutenant of horse cavalry back in the World War II days. As I told the admiral, I wound up flying a desk for the Army Air Force. And so, I know all the rules about not saluting in civilian clothes and so forth, and when you should or shouldn’t. But then when I got this job — [laughter] — and I would be approaching Air Force One or Marine One and those marines would come to a salute and I — knowing that I am in civilian clothes — I would nod and say hello and think they could drop their hand, and they wouldn’t. They just stood there. So, one night over at the Commandant’s quarters, Marine Commandant’s quarters in Washington, and I was getting a couple of highballs, and I didn’t — [laughter] — know what to do with them. So, I said to the Commandant — I said, “Look, I know all the rules about saluting in civilian clothes and all, but if I am the Commander in Chief, there ought to be a regulation that would permit me to return a salute.” And I heard some words of wisdom. He said, “I think if you did, no one would say anything.” [Laughter]

So, if you see me on television and I’m saluting, you know that I’ve got authority for it now — [laughter] — and I do it happily.

A simple act of honor and kindness: It’s the reason that a young soldier from Fort Hood, chose to stand in the pouring rain to salute a fallen military veteran who he didn’t even know, KWTX reports.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

As Kenneth Varnes was driving on Highway 195 in Killeen, Texas, he saw a funeral procession approaching. But this funeral possession contained police patrol and other vehicles bearing American flags. Varnes knew immediately that it must be for a fallen soldier – a brother.

Never mind the torrential rain, Varnes stopped his truck, got out, and stood in a silent salute until the last vehicle had passed by.

Indeed, it was the funeral possession carrying a military veteran to his final resting place. Zachary Rummings was attending the funeral for his former Army Command Sargent when he spotted the solitary figure of Varnes standing by his truck and saluting in the rain.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Overwhelmed by the stranger’s kindness, Rummings snapped a photograph and posted it on a local Facebook page, CBS reports. When asked later why he went out of his way to salute the funeral procession of this total stranger, Varnes replied “. just to make someone’s day. It’s a big brotherhood. I know how it is to go through a tough time like that.” And in this simple gesture, Varnes brought honor to the fallen, as the post went viral.

How to Salute Like a Soldier

Even nature recognized the kind sacrifice by this total stranger, as the rain that had once raged reduced to a trickle when Varnes stepped out of his truck.

“As soon as I got back in the truck, it poured again”, Varnes said to KWTX.

Bad weather didn’t stop a stranger from giving a simple act of honor and thanks to our military men and women.

We should all be willing to contribute such esteem to our brave military. A simple act of kindness should be encouraged, no matter how simple or insignificant we think it to be. Let us know your thoughts and opinions.