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Chapter 4 Customs, Courtesies, and Traditions The Army is an organization that instills pride in its members because of its history, mission, capabilities, and the respect it has earned in the service of the Nation. A reflection of that pride is visible in the customs, courtesies, and traditions the Army holds. Adherence to them connects us with soldiers throughout America’s history.
The Army has its own customs, both official and social. Some have been handed down from the distant past while others are of comparatively recent origin.
Those customs that endure stand on their own merits. As a long established social organization, the Army observes a number of customs that add to the interest, pleasure, and graciousness of Army life. Often it is these customs and traditions, strange to the civilian eye but solemn to the soldier, that keep the man in the uniform going in the unexciting times of peace.
In war they keep him fighting at the front. The fiery regimental spirit fondly polished over decades and centuries possesses him in the face of the enemy. A custom is an established practice. Customs include positive actions-things you do, and taboos-things you avoid. All established arts, trades, and professions, all races of people, all nations, and even different sections of the same nation have their own practices and customs by which they govern a part of their lives.
Many Army customs compliment procedures required by military courtesy, while others add to the graciousness of garrison life. The breach of some Army customs merely brands the offender as ignorant, careless, or ill bred. Violations of other Army customs, however, will bring official censure or disciplinary action. The customs of the Army are its common law.
These are a few: Never criticize the Army or a leader in public. Never go “over the heads” of superiors-don’t jump the chain of command. Never “wear” a 060-235 rank by saying 600-2235 like, “the ad sergeant ag this done now,” when in fact the first sergeant said no such thing.
Speak with your own voice. Never turn and walk away to avoid giving the hand salute. Never run indoors or pretend you don’t hear while driving, for example to avoid standing reveille or retreat. Never appear in uniform while under the influence of alcohol. If you don’t know the answer to a superior’s question, 600-23 will never go wrong with the response, “I don’t know sir, but I’ll find out.
Courtesy among members of the Armed Forces is vital to maintain discipline. Military courtesy means good manners and politeness in dealing 600-35 other people.
Courteous behavior provides a basis for developing good human relations.
The distinction between civilian and military courtesy is that military courtesy was developed in a military atmosphere and has become an integral part of serving in uniform. Most forms of military courtesy have some counterpart in civilian life.
For example, 6600-235 train soldiers to say sir or ma’am when talking to a higher ranking officer. Young men and women are sometimes taught to say sir to their fathers or ma’am to their mothers and likewise to other elders.
It is often considered good manners for a younger person to say sir or ma’am when speaking to an older person. The use of the word sir is also common in the business world, such as in the salutation of a letter or in any well-ordered institution.
Military courtesy is not a one-way street. Enlisted personnel are expected to be courteous to officers and likewise officers are expected to return the courtesy. Mutual respect is a vital 6000-235 of military courtesy. In the final analysis, military courtesy is the respect shown to each other at members of the same profession.
Some of the Army’s more common courtesies include 6000-235 the hand salute, standing at attention or parade rest, or even addressing others by their rank. 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 600-253 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. Bythe 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.
As they turned the corner and approached the building, PFC Robertson walked out carrying a large box. PFC Robertson said, “Good morning, sir,” and kept walking past the two.
FM Chapter 4, Customs, Courtesies, and Traditions
As his hands were occupied, he didn’t salute. If I had been carrying something and he wasn’t, he would have saluted.
It’s a privilege, not a chore,” said 1LT Thompson. 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 wr 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 xr 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 6000-235 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 6000-235 eye.
Your fingers are together, straight, and your thumb snug along the hand in line with the fingers.
AR 600-235 Assignment and Accountability of Army Personnel Appointed to Service Academies
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: 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.
To officers of friendly foreign countries. Salutes are not required when: Indoors, unless reporting to an officer or when on duty as a guard. 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 maintenanceindoors except when reportingor when saluting is not practical carrying articles with both hands, for example.
A good rule of thumb is this: Outdoors includes theater marquees, shelters over gas station pumps, covered walkways, and other similar shelters that are open on the sides. Military courtesy shows respect and reflects self-discipline.
Consistent and proper military courtesy is an indicator of unit discipline, as well. Soldiers demonstrate courtesy in the way we address officers or NCOs of superior rank.
Some other simple but visible signs of respect and self-discipline are as follows: When talking to an officer of superior rank, stand at attention until ordered otherwise. When you are dismissed, or when the officer departs, come to attention and salute.
When speaking to or being addressed a noncommissioned officer of superior rank, stand at parade rest until ordered otherwise. When an officer of superior rank enters a room, the first soldier to recognize the officer calls personnel in the room to attention but does not salute.
A salute indoors is rendered only when reporting. When entering or exiting a vehicle, the junior ranking soldier is the first to enter, and the senior in rank is the first to exit.
The first person who sees an officer enter a dining facility gives the order “At ease,” unless a more senior officer is already present. Many units extend this courtesy to senior NCOs, also.