Army Customs and Courtesies. Army Customs, Courtesies, Essay

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Army Customs and Courtesies.

Army Customs, Courtesies, and Traditions

Life in the United States Army is very different from the everyday life of the American citizen, and there are very good reasons for this. Army life is highly structured and regulated, something that is absolutely necessary when called upon to actually fight in battle. And since the function of the Army is to fight wars, and since wars could begin at any time, each soldier must be always highly disciplined so that they can fight wars at any time. In order to aid in maintaining the discipline of the individual soldier, the U.S. Army has developed a number of customs and courtesies which guide the individual soldier's daily life.

From the time of founding of the Army by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775 to the modern world, the U.S. Army has developed it's own customs, some official, some social. (Schading 2007, 26) "Often it is these customs and traditions…that keep the man in uniform going in the unexciting times of peace. In war they keep him fighting at the front." (Global Security) U.S. Army customs include both positive acts, things you are expected to do, and negative acts, things you should avoid doing. And while some violations of these customs simply embarrass the ignorant soldier, others can bring about official reprimand.

Of the things a good soldier should never do, the U.S. Army has only a few customs, but they are strictly enforced. These include: 1. Never defame the uniform or an officer of the U.S. Army. 2. Follow the chain of command, never go over the head of a superior. 3. Never offer excuses, take responsibility. 4. Never "wear" a superior's rank by speaking for someone else. Never say "the captain wants this done…" 5. Never turn away or avoid giving a hand salute. 6. Never give a false response to a superior's questions, in you don't know the answer say so. 7. Never keep anyone waiting.
8. Avoid vulgarity and profanity. (ROTC IL)

There are a number of "courtesies" which each soldier in the U.S. Army is expected to follow. Courtesy among members of the armed forces is extremely important to the maintaining of discipline, it provides the foundation of behavior expected from soldiers. And courtesies are not simply the lower rank acknowledging the higher rank, they are not a matter of subservience, instead they provide the basis of mutual respect on the part of members of the same profession.

The most common courtesy among soldiers is the hand salute. While some believe that the hand salute originated as a way for two people to demonstrate they were unarmed, it has evolved into a "privileged gesture of respect and trust among soldiers." (global security) The fact that the junior expends this courtesy to the senior is simply a point of etiquette which in no way detracts from the original symbolism of the salute. The hand salute is a gesture that recognizes each other as members of the same group, a group which is dedicated to self-sacrifice in service of the defense of America.

However, the way in which a soldier salutes is as important as the salute itself, it must be done properly and with respect. It must also be done at the proper times and under the proper circumstances. "The salute is rendered from an enlisted soldier to an officer or from one officer to a superior officer." (ROTC IL) Also, as a general rule, the recognition of an officer by a salute should be undertaken when the officer is about six paces away. A salute is also required when any of the following songs are played: the United States National Anthem, "To the Color," "Hail to the Chief," or the national anthem….....

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