Is The President Allowed to Salute? Nope. And Here’s Why.

Written by Jason Dias

Is the president allowed to salute ever? Nope. Yet Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and others got all over U.S. President Barack Obama for not doing it. They’re dead wrong. Here’s why.

aNewDomain — They say everyone is entitled to their opinon. 

Really? Everyone?

A story on the web and a storm of online opinion is out there on U.S. President Barack Obama’s “mistake” in not saluting some Marines shows that some people just shouldn’t say anything, freedom of speech not withstanding.

Here is some video of Obama getting on Marine One and then getting off again to say some nice things to the Marine standing guard:

The story on the web is that the pilot refused to let Obama on board until he went back to the Marine standing guard. CNN says Obama realized his so-called “mistake” and went back out to correct it.

You know what’s funny? The pilot could not haBarack Obama criticsve seen whether Obama snapped a salute or danced a jig or ate a pumpkin pie and sang for more supper. The pilot at the time would be pretty well stuck facing front, doing his instrument checks prior to lift off. So that part is kind of hard to believe.

But it’s easy to believe that people who watched this wanted to jump all over Obama for his perceived wrong here.

Certain kinds of people love to think about Obama being scolded by our military professionals. Above, that’s Arizona Governor Jan Brewer putting her finger in Obama’s face.

But in truth, Obama didn’t owe the Marine anything. And he wasn’t even permitted, by protocol, to salute him. In military lingo, Obama wasn’t qualified.

Civilians, you see, know a few things about etiquette, but they often understand nothing of protocol – the military version of etiquette. 

Etiquette is an outmoded system of manners based on courtly needs. Protocol is a more adaptive, dynamic system because feudalism is dead and we still have the military. And here’s the thing:

People out of uniform are not permitted to salute. Period. 

I did my time. In the military, periodically, we’d have dress-down days, or mufti days. We could pay a dollar or two into the party fund or benevolent fund and come to work for a day in civvies. 

is the president allowed to salute? neverWe received careful instructions on protocol for those days. 

One of the rules was: Do not salute officers when out of uniform. 

If the flag goes up or down while you’re outside to hear the anthem, stop and place your hand over your heart. Like a civilian. But do not salute.

The salute is reserved for people under arms, in uniform. Civilians are not qualified to render it. People out of uniform are not permitted to. It is a breach of protocol. As commander in chief, Obama would’ve known this. As a civilian person not of arms and not in uniform, he couldn’t have saluted.

You know, there are some people who will look down at our president no matter what he does. They’ll shake their heads sadly and demand their country back. They’ll even call him a disgrace. 

The people who want to call him out for not rendering a salute wouldn’t let Obama win under any circumstances. If they knew better, they’d just be the first people to point out he never served in the military and isn’t entitled to salute anyone.  

They’d tie the salute to military aspirations. They’d call him a dictator. 

Hitler wore a uniform. So did George W. Bush. But we’re a democracy with a civilian leadership. Every president before Reagan honored protocol and honored our democracy – a place where the civilians are in charge. 

Obama critics

In my days in the military we showed up and did our jobs. I’d have been embarrassed to be noticed by a president. Back then, most of the people in my unit would have probably agreed. We talked about this kind of stuff, protocol, on long, boring nights when there was nothing better to do. 

But nowadays, with Faux News playing all the time in the background everywhere I seem to go, it seems that most of my reasonable old comrades have become pretty extreme, politically speaking. 

Still, information is good.

Obama shouldn’t salute Marines, Airmen, soldiers, sailors. 

For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.

Image credits:

Image one:, All Rights Reserved; image two:, All Rights Reserved.


  • You are correct, when out of uniform there is a different protocol to use.

    There is also a local custom at Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers baseball stadium) where active duty military and veterans are encouraged to render a “military salute” when the National Anthem is played. I never do as a veteran I hold my hand over heart until the anthem is finished

  • Understand the protocol, accept it, but have witnessed it being violated so much, especially by military members on bases and off, that it tends to be acceptable, by officers and enliste men. Also, in the Marine Corps saluting is only permitted while covered (wearing headgear) and not indoors (not covered) except for when under arms (covered). This means the uncovered officer(s) or enlisted(s) not covered and/or in uniform are neither required nor allowed to return salutes rendered by others.

  • Silly author; civilians can do whatever they want. Members of the armed forces may not be permitted to salute out of uniform but civilians don’t require permission, qualification, or authorization to make a hand gesture.

  • I take issue with your statement: “The salute is reserved for people under arms, in uniform.” As a former officer in the U.S. Army (1966-1969) I must say that “under arms” was never a consideration — but “in uniform” was. You will note that in the video you’ve provided, the Marine is not “under arms” and rendered a salute to his Commander-in-Chief.