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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 11-12-2018, 04:48 PM   #1
crossingnoises
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Default Military etiquette?

Two questions regarding military etiquette. I had a confusing Veterans Day.

Question one:

I'm a civilian piper - I'm not and haven't been in the military. I learned (from somewhere) that as a civilian, I shouldn't salute, or return a salute. When it comes time to salute the flag, I should put my hand on my heart. If someone salutes me, I should nod/acknowledge it, but not return it.

When it came time to salute the flag, a fellow piper (a veteran) told me, "Look, you're in uniform, so just salute."

Not sure about how to salute when needed, or if to return one.

Question two:

As a piper for Veterans Day, the order came for "cover," which was to remove one's hat - for prayers, national anthem, etc. I removed my hat, but was corrected by another piper (and vet) - "you're 'under arms,' so you should keep your cover on." The idea was that pipes shared some equivalence to arms.

As a civilian, I know that I can do "whatever I want" and that all the regulations come from the military side. But I do want to show respect and figure out what are best practices are for playing at military events - If/when to salute, if/when to remove one's hat.

Advice & opinions appreciated!
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Old 11-12-2018, 06:58 PM   #2
bwbees0
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Default Re: military etiquette?

Hello Crossingnoises,


Frist off, thank you for asking your question. I will try to address your questions from the perspective of someone that spent 24+ years in the US Air Force. I am quite sure others will offer sage advice as well. Perhaps there are some here that have experience in a military pipe band that can help with some of the finer points of order. Here, I will limit my comments to your two questions concerning salutes and removing one's "cover" for prayers etc. I will preface those comments with this thought. You are a civilian, and everyone knows that. There is nothing wrong with being a civilian, in fact, that is the reason the military and other public service organizations such as police, firefighters etc. exist -- to serve the public. That said, no one expects the civilians to know or follow the military rules. It is nice that you ask though because it shows you care and are interested. Thank you!



I see no problem with removing your hat for a prayer such as during a ceremony or whenever. You can leave your hat on if you wish, but generally speaking it is Ok to take off your hat and bow your head etc during prayers. I've done this many times both in and out of military formations. Some times, the Chaplain may ask for people to take off their hats etc before beginning the prayer. Follow what others do and remember what your parents and other elders taught you when you were growing up. This is especially so if you are solo. If you are in a band formation, just follow the PM or Drum Major's lead.



With rare exceptions, civilians do not salute. Salutes are exchanged between all military members. For an example exception you may have seen the President return a salute from the Marines at the Marine 1 helicopter. (The President, while a civilian, is also the Commander-in-Chief of the military in the USA.) In the US only military or former military salute. Everyone else stands at attention. In a band, the Drum Major salutes for the band if that is required. As a retired officer, I will gladly return any salute that comes my way and render those appropriately as well. But in a band formation, it is the Drum Major's job to render any required salutes. For what it's worth, the DM here is a retired Marine.



As a civilian, you don't return the salute, a simple thank you or other appropriate greeting is all that is needed to acknowledge the salute. Civilians do not salute the military -- that is not proper. Generally, military members do not salute civilians, but there are some notable exceptions. For example, it is proper for a military member to salute their date if they meet them while in uniform. This salute is not returned by the date. There are some old John Wayne WW II movies that show this on screen. If you are curious, just watch those movies to see it. As for saluting the flag, you are correct that civilians should place their hand over their heart.


I hope this helps.



Keep enjoying piping!


Cheers,


Ben
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Old 11-13-2018, 03:27 AM   #3
Steve Law
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Default Re: military etiquette?

Speaking as a UK civvy who grew up surrounded by ex-Military....and having observed over decades that there are differs between military drills in many countries (I’ve played a good few engagements on USAF bases here in UK and joint parades in UK towns and some differs are striking....for example, watch how US military perform ‘about turn’ or ‘halt’ and compare with UK

Generally agree with Ben above, especially in regard to salute and returns.

The only differ I have is from yesterday’s parades, when we (band) were stood ‘at ease’ during prayers. We remained ‘covered’, probably under the note above above headgear being ‘under arms’

I share the desire to do the right thing, and feel it’s very important , especially in a band setting, that everyone does the same. As a civvy solo, I feel it’s right to follow your heart and would be rather unfair if anyone were to criticise without knowing the background to an individual’s circumstances.

At the end of the day, the military folks receive formal training in what’s right and wrong - for the military. But civvy folks generally receive no such training and therefore are free to do whatever they feel is right, so don’t let anyone bully you into inappropriate guilt.
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Old 11-13-2018, 03:37 AM   #4
CalumII
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Default Re: military etiquette?

Historically, pipers have often followed rules around military decorum, simply because so many had or have a military background. It's relatively unusual to see a competitor salute the bench at a competition now, but it's certainly not unknown. Pipesdrums had an interesting blog a while back on how these cultures interact and how that interaction has changed over time.



As for what to do in any given situation, if you don't know, attempting to choose the path of least offence is usually a good guide.
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Old 11-13-2018, 08:27 AM   #5
Reed
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Default Re: military etiquette?

As a former ceremonial marine who served at Marine Barracks/8th & I, Washington. D.C. in the Commandant's Own Drum & Bugle Corps, allow me to chime in.

As to saluting, it's really a military custom and regulation. Non-Military do not salute, but there are always deviations. As a retired city cop, we saluted all the time when in uniform at memorials, and back and forth between our guys who did serve in the U.S. military forces; and domestic police service is non-military. I don't think anyone will come unglued if you salute while in uniform. The cub, boy, and girl scouts salute (although not with a proper military salute) as does the Salvation Army, etc. Just learn to salute properly unlike the majority of actors and others who don't and look silly.

As to the cover (hat, it's never called a hat in the USMC), wearing a cover indoors is only when you're "under arms", which means you're literally armed with a firearm (rifle, pistol, etc) or service sword. It doesn't mean when your simply wearing a uniform. Even marines take off their covers indoors when unarmed while wearing the uniform, and never salute uncovered at any time, ever. The only time marines salute indoors is under arms and when a commissioned officer or the colors are presented. U.S. Army personnel salute uncovered and indoors; they always have.

Marines are required to wear their cover anytime they are out of doors. We never uncovered ever at the request of clergy or anyone else, it was against regs. We did bow our heads when a chaplain offered prayers but did so while remaining covered. Ultimately, what you do when wearing highland attire if you're non-military is up to you, of course, but the above still stands.
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Old 11-13-2018, 02:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: military etiquette?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwbees0 View Post
Hello Crossingnoises,


SNIP

As a civilian, you don't return the salute, a simple thank you or other appropriate greeting is all that is needed to acknowledge the salute. Civilians do not salute the military -- that is not proper. Generally, military members do not salute civilians, but there are some notable exceptions. For example, it is proper for a military member to salute their date if they meet them while in uniform. This salute is not returned by the date. There are some old John Wayne WW II movies that show this on screen. If you are curious, just watch those movies to see it. As for saluting the flag, you are correct that civilians should place their hand over their heart.


I hope this helps.



Keep enjoying piping!


Cheers,


Ben
Thanks, Ben. One other exception I've seen is at veterans' funerals, when the Honor Guard presents the folded flag to the family and salutes. Would it be because he's (she's) saluting the flag before leaving?
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:38 PM   #7
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Default Re: military etiquette?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klondike Waldo View Post
Thanks, Ben. One other exception I've seen is at veterans' funerals, when the Honor Guard presents the folded flag to the family and salutes. Would it be because he's (she's) saluting the flag before leaving?
Yes. Our Military has a different attitude toward the Flag than other countries, UK, Germany, wherever. We regard the Flag as a living entity, to be treated with respect and honor, so saluting the Flag being presented to a family member is also showing respect to the departed.
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:38 PM   #8
bwbees0
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Default Re: military etiquette?

Klondike Waldo,


Quote:
Originally Posted by Klondike Waldo View Post
Thanks, Ben. One other exception I've seen is at veterans' funerals, when the Honor Guard presents the folded flag to the family and salutes. Would it be because he's (she's) saluting the flag before leaving?
You are correct, that is a salute to honor the colors as they are passed from person to person in the ceremony. You may have noticed that the Officer in Charge or NCOIC slow saluted the flag as it is passed to the other team member after it is folded. That salute is not returned. This signifies that the salute is not between service members, but to the flag that honors the deceased. In the same fashion, the member passing the flag to the family also slow salutes the flag before they depart.


Regards,


Ben
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Old 11-13-2018, 07:24 PM   #9
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Military etiquette?

First, as a civilian who has piped at hundreds of military funerals I thank the military and former military who have contributed to this thread. It's nice to have things clarified.

I've always followed the path of least resistance- "when in Rome" but at the same time being aware that I'm a civilian and to not do anything specifically military.

There's another angle in all of this, that of the musician. I have observed many times over the years that a band, orchestra, or other group of musicians seated together at a service (in church or in other indoor or outdoor facilities) often stay unchanged when the congregation/attendees are asked to do something such as stand for a prayer or the National Anthem. It's almost as if the musicians are part of the facility rather than people participating in the service.

As a piper I follow that idea somewhat, keeping off to the sidelines and out of the way except when it's time to play.
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 11-13-2018 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 11-13-2018, 08:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: Military etiquette?

Do what your gut tells you..at the moment;....donít worry thereís no MPíS about to arrest you.
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