Today's prime candidate for our next obsession is the video clip of
One characteristic of the news in our time is that we get enough information to prop up the theme of the story but never nearly enough to let you speculate on how it fits into the big picture. Surprise surprise, presidents saluting the military is rather new to be calling it a tradition. I believe it started with Reagan, who of course served WW II in Hollywood. Some nations forbid saluting while "uncovered" or not wearing a hat. According to Marine protocol:
" Marines do not render the hand salute when out of uniform or when uncovered."
Whether or not an "uncovered" or out of uniform president, or any other civilian is required to return such a salute is open to interpretation. There is no universal rule and one must remember commuting by helicopter is as common as driving to work or taking the bus is for the rest of us -- not much of a public ceremony. There is no rule about doing something because Reagan's PR people told Reagan to do it.
"The gesture is of course quite wrong: Such a salute has always required the wearing of a uniform. It represents an exaggeration of the president's military role." Wrote author and historian John Lukacs wrote in The New York Times in 2003 when Bush was in the White house and it was un-American to criticize the Warpresident..