“salute seen around the world.” Today I read the complete story by Cliff Radel of the Cincinnati Enquirer. As an old soldier (retired) from a military family, I must admit without embarrassment that it brought tears to my eyes. Cpl. Hargis was seriously wounded in Afghanistan by an IED that killed four other soldiers in his unit. He had to be connected to a breathing tube and other medical devices (tears again) to keep him alive. His right was injured. He had just come
out of surgery when his commander showed up to pin the Purple Heart on him. Everyone thought he was unconscious because he did not open his eyes. He surprised everyone in the room when he saluted with his wounded hand. The picture speaks for itself. It shows him surrounded by medical equipment. It is a simple gesture and anyone would have done it, but it very symbolic and very
meaningful to military folks. It is an old tradition.
Many civilians would not understand the significance of the salute. The history of the salute is not well documented. The one legend that I believe is that the salute descended from the medieval knight's gesture of raising his visor to reveal his identity as a courtesy on the approach of a superior. Keep in mind that the visor not only hid the knight’s face but it also protected him. The salute was rendered with the right hand, which is also the hand most knights used to hold their weapon. The left hand held their shield. Raising the visor was a friendly gesture of respect. This is similar to a handshake with the right hand.
After warfare evolved and knights lost their armor, it became customary for junior ranking military people to remove their headgear in the presence of superiors. This was the custom as late as the American Revolution. With the advent of more cumbersome headgear, the salute gradually evolved into the simpler gesture of grasping the visor. The salute is usually accompanied with an appropriate salutation. Eventually, the salute evolved into the modern salute of today.
The salute is normally rendered to the rank or position, not the person. Soldiers would salute the Commander-in-Chief (the President) regardless of their own political convictions. Sometimes, we salute the person. When I was in Vietnam, my soldiers saluted my platoon sergeant even though it was not required by military regulations. They did so out of respect for him. He was an old soldier
who looked after them. We salute soldiers who have earned the Medal of Honor regardless of their rank. I saluted my father and stepfather when they were buried even though I out ranked them both. We salute the people that we respect.
I see that the government shut down has ended for now. The members of congress will get no salute from this old veteran. I have an entirely different salute in store for them. http://clicktotweet.com/294wn