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Old 04-27-2011, 12:05 PM
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US Military Salute: Palm Out vs. Palm Horizontal

American servicemen and servicewomen salute officers with their palms downward, like this.

British servicemen and servicewomen salute officers with their palms outward, like this (scroll down to sixth picture).

In the movie Glory, set in the US Civil War, officers are saluted the British way.

When did the American custom change, and why?
Old 04-27-2011, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
British servicemen and servicewomen salute officers with their palms outward, like this (scroll down to sixth picture).

In the movie Glory, set in the US Civil War, officers are saluted the British way.
I don't have an answer to your question, but thought I should point out that whilst the British Army and RAF salute with palm out (topical linky and another), the Royal Navy salute is flat (gets about, doesn't he?).

I have no idea why.

Last edited by SanVito; 04-27-2011 at 01:23 PM.
Old 04-27-2011, 06:41 PM
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The choice of army salute seems to be arbitrary.

The Irish army salute is hand horizontal with palm downwards. I understand that this was deliberately chosen to differentiate its army from the British Forces after independence from the United Kingdom.

I assume that the USAian salute is different from the British army one for similar reasons.
Old 04-27-2011, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
the Royal Navy salute is flat (gets about, doesn't he?).

I have no idea why.
The way I heard it, sailors hands would be coated with pitch or tar due to working with ropes all the time. It was considered more respectful to hide your black palms when saluting officers.
Old 04-27-2011, 08:32 PM
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While in Army basic training (1991) we were told the proper way to salute was palm down because the U.S. has never lost a war. Only countries that have lost a war saluted with palms facing outward. I haven't looked into the validity of this and if I had asked my drill sergeants about it I probably would have ended up pushing Fort Jackson down to South America.
Old 04-28-2011, 02:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Cell Guy View Post
While in Army basic training (1991) we were told the proper way to salute was palm down because the U.S. has never lost a war. Only countries that have lost a war saluted with palms facing outward. I haven't looked into the validity of this and if I had asked my drill sergeants about it I probably would have ended up pushing Fort Jackson down to South America.
Sounds like Drill Sergeant hyperbole to me
Old 04-28-2011, 02:53 AM
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Seems dubious to me. I can't see an army deciding to switch to/use a face outward salute so that everybody could know they had lost a war.
Old 04-28-2011, 03:51 AM
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Learning to salute is, by the way, pretty tricky. The US salute is palm-down and for some reason people tend to not keep their writs straight. They throw up their arm any which way and then bend the wrist to bring the fingertip to the corner of the eye.

The wrist should be locked and the arm moved to position the hand correctly. It sounds like a legend, but my drill sergeants told me that it is the only time they may touch a trainee is in fixing their salute, as there is no other way to get their darn wrists straight.

Am I right in saying the old CSA used a palm-out salute?
Old 04-28-2011, 04:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul in Qatar View Post
Learning to salute is, by the way, pretty tricky. The US salute is palm-down and for some reason people tend to not keep their writs straight. They throw up their arm any which way and then bend the wrist to bring the fingertip to the corner of the eye.

The wrist should be locked and the arm moved to position the hand correctly. It sounds like a legend, but my drill sergeants told me that it is the only time they may touch a trainee is in fixing their salute, as there is no other way to get their darn wrists straight.

Am I right in saying the old CSA used a palm-out salute?
Silly, I have been able to throw a perfect salute since I was probably 4 years old. You just have to start them young enough. <shrug>
Old 04-28-2011, 06:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul in Qatar View Post
The wrist should be locked and the arm moved to position the hand correctly. It sounds like a legend, but my drill sergeants told me that it is the only time they may touch a trainee is in fixing their salute, as there is no other way to get their darn wrists straight.
Not only that, but as the hand comes up, the fingertips should move up the 'gig' line (the line from the belt buckle, up the row of shirt buttons to the chin) and the upper arm should end up parallel to the ground. The thumb needs to be in line with the fingers.
Old 04-28-2011, 08:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul in Qatar View Post
...Am I right in saying the old CSA used a palm-out salute?
Good question. In all my Civil War reading, I've never seen a description of the Confederate salute, nor a picture of such.

Agree the "we salute this way because we never lost a war" explanation is jive.
Old 04-28-2011, 10:50 AM
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Speaking of salutes, what's the origin of the gesture? I remember hearing that it started with knights raising their visors to expose their faces to superiors, but have no idea if it's true.

.
Old 04-28-2011, 12:54 PM
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Knock yourself out!: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salute
Old 04-28-2011, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Cell Guy View Post
While in Army basic training (1991) we were told the proper way to salute was palm down because the U.S. has never lost a war.
Did anyone in your group do the *cough*Ho Chi Min*cough* move when this was stated?
Old 04-28-2011, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
I'm liking the Polish salute, with the element of 'hey, dude'.
Old 04-28-2011, 04:27 PM
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This seems as good a place as any to advocate in favor of the Arnold Rimmer salute (oddly missing from the wikipedia list)

Last edited by Buck Godot; 04-28-2011 at 04:29 PM.
Old 04-28-2011, 06:18 PM
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The Republicans in the Spanish Civil War saluted by placing the knuckles of the right fist against the temple of the forehead. A gesture impossible in our post-Three Stooges world.

I once read of an exchange between a senior British officer and a New Zealander that went like this:

"Don't these men of yours salute?!"

"No sir, but if you wave hello to them I'm sure they'll wave back."
Old 04-28-2011, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cell Guy View Post
While in Army basic training (1991) we were told the proper way to salute was palm down because the U.S. has never lost a war.
OK, that's just Drill Sergeant jive, part of some military ULs that are perpetuated upon the impresionable Basic Trainees and which I'm sure every branch has some. Like "if you get sunburned you will be charged with damaging government property". Our "undefeated" DSJive was that the enlisted chevrons were point-down during the second half of the 19th Century because it represented the Civil War, and went point-up after 1900 because with the Spanish-American War we then were over that and have since only fought external foes and remained unconquered. Entirely bogus.


Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleRojelio View Post
Not only that, but as the hand comes up, the fingertips should move up the 'gig' line (the line from the belt buckle, up the row of shirt buttons to the chin) and the upper arm should end up parallel to the ground. The thumb needs to be in line with the fingers.
OK, that one I never heard. Since the fingertip has to end up above your right eye(*) and it starts at your hip at attention, this would mean making an arc across your pelvis to the buckle, then up to the chin then arc to the right eyebrow. I was trained to do it just straight hip-to-temple

(*Touching the brim of the headgear above the right eye; if with brimless headgear, touching the outside of the right eyebrow or the upper right corner/hinge of the eyeglasses)

But yes, the upper arm is supposed to be horizontal, and the forearm and hand one straight line, fingers and palm flat -- thumb not tucked under. But people keep modifying it, commonly by keeping the elbow closer to the body and/ir cocking the hand inward so you are looking at your palm, almost a reverse-British salute.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
Good question. In all my Civil War reading, I've never seen a description of the Confederate salute, nor a picture of such.
A pure WAG: as with many things in the development of our military, as of 1861 the form of the hand salute may not have been fully set-in-stone standardized across the regiments and there may had been a trend of using British Army style. The natural motion of raising the arm and hand to that position has the palm facing out anyway.
Old 04-29-2011, 02:04 AM
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I think the perfect verbal description of how to salute American style, was in scent of a woman.

Declan
Old 04-29-2011, 02:23 AM
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Oddly, they do not mention the salute used in Arabic armies.

If uncovered and reporting to an officer, the subordinate comes to attention and gives an exaggerated should shrug. If I had a cite I would add to the article.
Old 04-29-2011, 06:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul in Qatar View Post
Oddly, they do not mention the salute used in Arabic armies.

If uncovered and reporting to an officer, the subordinate comes to attention and gives an exaggerated should shrug. If I had a cite I would add to the article.
We do that one in Norway as well, if uncovered. The rule being, you never salute without some form of head gear on (which means you never salute indoors..).

Insted we do an exaggerated nod of the head - difficult to describe, and difficult to get right

Last edited by abel29a; 04-29-2011 at 06:01 AM.
Old 04-29-2011, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul in Qatar View Post
Learning to salute is, by the way, pretty tricky. The US salute is palm-down and for some reason people tend to not keep their writs straight. They throw up their arm any which way and then bend the wrist to bring the fingertip to the corner of the eye.

The wrist should be locked and the arm moved to position the hand correctly.
Tell that to John Kerry, who was a general. The Clintons we can forgive because neither was in the service.
Old 04-29-2011, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by barbitu8 View Post
Tell that to John Kerry, who was a general. The Clintons we can forgive because neither was in the service.
What the heck does this have to do with anything? (Besides, Kerry was a Lieutenant)
Old 04-30-2011, 02:57 AM
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We didn't lose in Vietnam, we just took all our weapons and went home
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