Saluting is a powerful, non-verbal communication that shows proper respect to a military officer. Although there's no real written record of how or where the tradition began, precursors to the salute date far back in history when warriors would raise their right hand (traditionally the weapon hand) as a signal of friendship.
The practice of saluting has gone fairly unchanged throughout history. The subordinate hand-gestures first when in the presence of a superior who, in turn, responds accordingly — lower-ranking personnel salute higher-ranking service members first.
Recruits learn how to hand salute in boot camp and demonstrate it hundreds of times before heading out to active duty. The gesture becomes instant as muscle memory takes over.
Although the gesture is meant to pay respect, there are times when an officer doesn't want to see that salute — and here are just a few.
1. Before Monday-morning, boots-and-utes PT when they're still hungover from the weekend.
Officers like to drink, too.
"Major? This is the general. Send over that boot lieutenant, will you? I'm too hungover for this 'boots and utes' run."
2. When they're trying to have a legit conversation and it keeps getting interrupted by incoming and outgoing hand salutes.
Officers have a unit to run and that requires them to chat it up. Their concentration doesn't need to be broken every time a boot walks through the area.
3. When there are a few dozen enlisted troops headed their way and they must return the salute over, and over, and over again.
The struggle is real, folks.
"I can't hold this salute any longer!" (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan)
4. When an officer is in a rush to go home.
Just like any enlisted troop out there, officers want their liberty time, too.
5. In a war zone.
You might as well put a bullseye on the officer's forehead. It's just not a good idea — don't do it.
Joker meets Mr. Touchdown, a Marine officer, and salutes him in Vietnam. It's not a good idea. (Screenshot from Warner Brother's Full Metal Jacket)
6. When they're just sore as f*ck from arm day at the gym.
Officers have to keep up physically with all those motivated enlistees. Hitting the gym on the regular helps them compete.