In the final analysis, military courtesy is the respect shown to each other by members of the same profession. It is a privileged gesture of respect and trust among soldiers.Some of the Army's more common courtesies include rendering the hand salute, standing at attention or parade rest, or even addressing others by their rank. 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.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.The breach of some Army customs merely brands the offender as ignorant, careless, or ill bred. Courtesy among members of the Armed Forces is vital to maintain discipline.Violations of other Army customs, however, will bring official censure or disciplinary action. Military courtesy means good manners and politeness in dealing with other people.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.
By 1820, the motion was modified to touching the hat, and since then it has become the hand salute used today.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.For more information on Department of the Army policy for unit and individual flags, guidons, and streamers see AR 840-10, Heraldic Activities-Flags, Guidons, Streamers, Tabards, and Automobile and Aircraft Plates. 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.