To the Editor:
This was sent to me from a Navy SEAL friend stationed at CenCom.
“Have you noticed a difference in the salute given by our military men and women as President Bush walks by? Most folks would not notice anything, but military people see it right away. Watch, when President Bush leaves his helicopter or Air Force One, the honor guards salute and face him as he disembarks, then turn their faces towards him as he passes by. They continue to salute his back as he walks away.
This kind of salute has not been seen in the previous eight years, though it is customary courtesy to the Commander-in-Chief. You see, soldiers aren’t required to turn and face the President as they salute. They are not required to salute his back. They are only required to salute. They can remain face-forward the entire time. And that is what they did during Bill Clinton’s entire Presidency. Our soldiers were forced to obey Clinton’s orders, but they were not forced to respect him.
From their salutes, we can surmise that they did not. Why is such respect afforded to President Bush? He doesn’t even know how to bite his lower lip and not get teary-eyed whenever he speaks! The following incident from Major General Van Antwerp may give us an insight. Gen. Antwerp is president of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship. He lost nearly all his staff when the Pentagon was attacked Sept. 11.
His executive officer, LTC Brian Birdwell, was badly burned and in the hospital when President Bush visited him. Our President spent time and prayed with Brian. As he was getting ready to leave, he went to the foot of Brian’s bed and saluted. He held his salute until Brian was able to raise his burned and bandaged arm, ever so slowly, in return.
The Commander-in-Chief never initiates a salute, except in the case of a Congressional Medal of Honor winner. The injured soldier did not have to return the salute. But he did, out of respect to his President – a Soldier’s President.
Sophomore Wildlife Biology