Thursday, December 17, 2009

Random Thoughts

I'm crunching hard for the job that pays the bills, so I've been a little negligent of my duties here. Sorry. Hope to be back strong tomorrow.

There aren't a lot of things I miss about the Navy--but one is the salute. The simple act of recognizing another person. Non-military folks think that officers get off on salutes--I suppose they may be right--but the simple truth is that you have to return any salute rendered you--so it is a mutual obligation.

I take the Kitten's kittens to school some mornings when I'm in our bucolic little town of Easton. As I leave the parking lot to head home, there is a crossing guard posted--an older man, probably in his late sixties. He's a bit of a fixture here in Talbot County--and can be found directing traffic most summer weekends in St. Michaels, the local tourist village.

He carries out his duties with military precision; his movements are akin to those of the soldiers at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington. I am fascinated by this fellow to whom I've never spoken. Though we do not speak, we do communicate. As he turns to me to wave me out into the road, I render him a salute. He comes to attention and returns it--and I am on my way. This little act of respect--me for him, him for me, and probably by the transitive property--both of us for the country we represented--never seems to fail to make my morning.


Anonymous said...

Your post about the salute is very true. It is something that is very hard to translate to the 'civilian'. Including those civilians who should be in the 'know.' It is always interesting to be in those positions where you have to render a salute to a civilian and they stand frozen until you drop your salute, turn around and say "Good day Ma'am" or something to that effect. On the other hand I am always surprised that every boy below the age of 13 in America will attempt to salute when they see any military person in uniform. Always brings a smile from me, and a sharply returned greeting.

"The Hammer" said...

I always wanted to use the word bucolic in a sentence, but the occasion never presented itself.

Ghost of Halloween Past said...

The salute is such a baffling and complex animal to those of us on the outside: what may come naturally to those <13 YO boys or those with exposure to the military is lost to the average joe or jane. Which hand, what angle, how high/low/long/fast/slow, curved hand, flat palm? The "dismount" - use a flourish or a straight drop down. And who salutes who/what, where/when? Salutes across the services differ. Who goes first? If you are facing multiple people, which one gets saluted first? Wearing a cover or not - salute or no? I learned, possibly incorrectly, that it wasn't appropriate to salute someone senior first if I were out of uniform.

My daughter salutes her friends and teachers in greeting and farewell: the deaf "hello" is a jaunty salute off the forehead -- it's awfully sweet to see in a 3 year old.

I think the country lane wave (that casual moving salute off the forehead) is a nice civilian analog, works as well in an office hallway as across the street. But I too despise the robotic passing of people we see regularly without any acknowledgment.

Namaste (with a 2 handed salute)

Goldwater's Ghost said...

"I take the Kitten's kittens to school some mornings when I'm in our bucolic little town of Easton."

I'm reminded me of the scene from Mr. Mom when Jack Butler dropped his kids off at school for the first time ("South to drop off MORON!").

Dan said...

When I was a Plebe, first day at West Point, they taught the salute. I still remember the upperclassman asking, "Permission to touch your hand," so as to put it into the proper position and angle.

And I replied, "Yeah, go ahead."

For the next hour, I learned the hard way how to reply with, "Yes, Sir."

"The Hammer" said...

I remember my first day at Fort Jackson. They taught us who was boss.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Aw come on Ghostess--you might try to get that "those of us on the outside" stuff past some of them, but you and I learned how to salute, who to salute, and when/when not to salute from the very same Gunnery Sergeant. I'm just disappointed that you didn't stick around in NROTC long enough to outrank me so I could salute your sexy little self....

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