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The Evolution Of The Military Salute

Interesting Facts in Easy English


Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • personnel: people who work for an organization
  • knight: a soldier in the Middle Ages
  • visor: a shield that goes over one’s face
  • gesture: body language
  • rank: the level of seniority
  • brim: the edge of a hat
  • initiate: to begin or lead
  • civilian: a person who does not or has not worked for the military

The Evolution Of The Military Salute

The military salute is a sign of between military personnel. In the Middle Ages, knights opened their visors to show their faces to each other. Knights used their right hand to show they weren’t hiding a weapon beneath their . Over time this gesture evolved and became a sign of respect in the military. Junior soldiers removed their hats in respect to higher ranking officers. In the late 19th century, Queen Victoria decided that it was inappropriate for military personnel to remove their hats and complex headgear. At this time, British soldiers began touching the brim of their headgear rather than removing it to salute. This gradually became the accepted salute in a variety of militaries. Tradition calls for the lower-ranked personnel to salute first. The person who initiates the salute does not lower his or her arm until the salute is . Military courtesy continues to evolve. In the US, veterans and plain-clothed serviceman are now permitted to salute the US flag as uniformed personnel do. This can also be done by placing one’s hat over one’s . Civilians are not supposed to use the military salute, though many children enjoy standing at attention and offering a military salute when a soldier passes by. Civilians who salute military personnel usually receive a wave in return.

Comprehension Questions

  1. How did knights raise their visors in the Middle Ages?
  2. What decision did Queen Victoria make in the late nineteenth century?
  3. What usually happens when a civilian offers a military salute to a soldier?

Discussion Question: Do you think world leaders should receive and return military salutes? Why or why not?

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