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(AM-294: dp. 795, 1. 184'6", b. 33', dr. 9', s. 15 k.; cpl. 104, a. 1 3", 2 40mm., 6 20mm., 2 dct., 2 dcp.,1 dcp. (hh.); cl. Admirable)
The first Salute (AM-294) was laid down on 11 November 1942 by Winslow Marine Railway and Shipbuilding Co., Seattle, Wash., launched on 6 February 1943; sponsored by Miss Patricia Lindgren; and commissioned on 4 December 1943, Lt. R. H. Nelson in command.
After shakedown, Salute sailed from San Francisco Oll 21 March 1944 for Hawaii. Between April and September 1944, she escorted convoys between Pearl Harbor, Majuro, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Guam, and Saipan, before reporting to the 7th Fleet at Manus on 8 October for the Leyte invasion. On 20 October, she joined her division, Mine Division 34, off the Leyte beaches for a four-day sweep of the main transport channel, and then anchored with the transports to provide antiaircraft support. Between 27 and 31 October, she helped search for survivors at the scene of the Battle off Samar, where a group of escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts, had repulsed the attack of a more powerful Japanese fleet. For the next month, she carried out local patrols and sweeps in the vicinity of Leyte.
Salute participated with her division in most of the subsequent landings in the Philippines. She carried out pre-invasion sweeps at Ormoc Bay on 6 December Mindoro Island on 14 December, Lingayen Gulf on 6 January 1945, and Zambales and Subic Bay on 29 and 31 January. During and after the initial troop landings, she helped extend the mineswept areas and provided antisubmarine and antiaircraft protection for the transports anchored off the beaches. Few mines were encountered, but kamikaze resistance was intense, and the ships saw much antiaircraft action.
On 13 February, Salute and her division began preinvasion sweeps in Manila Bay in preparation for the landings at Mariveles and Corrigedor. While sweeping off Corrigedor on the 14th, the minesweepers came within 5,000 yards of the island and were repeatedly straddled by Japanese fire before supporting ships silenced the island's guns. Salute continued sweeping in Manila Bay through 18 February, and her division earned a Navy Unit Commendation for the operation.
During the next two and one-half months Salute carried out several local sweeps in support oi ground operations in the Philippines, the most notable being a pre-assault sweep for the landings at Legaspi, Luzon on 1 April, and an 8-day sweep in the Sulu Sea off Palawan beginning on 22 April. On 9 May, the ship arrived at Morotai to prepare for operations in the Netherlands East Indies.
With Mine Division 34, Salute began the pre-invasion sweep for the landings in Brunei Bay, Borneo, on 7 June 1945. The next day, she struck a mine, buckled amidships, and both bow and stern began to sink. Two landing craft attempted to salvage the minesweeper but they were unable to control her flooding, and the ship sank. Salute was struck from the Navy list on 11 July 1945.
Salute received 5 battle stars for her World War II service.
No, the ‘presidential salute’ isn’t a thing — and neither is the ‘vice presidential salute’
The hotly debated issue of the “presidential salute” is once again making the rounds online, except this time it has broadened in scope to include the “vice presidential salute.”
Kamala Harris does not salute the military when she arrives at or steps off Air Force Two, unlike her predecessors former Vice Presidents Mike Pence and Joe Biden pic.twitter.com/CUrS9jt4w2&mdash David Croom – (ツ) (@dailycallout) March 22, 2021
Early Monday evening a video began making the rounds on social media showing Vice President Kamala Harris walking right past a line of saluting airmen as she made her way to the ramp of Air Force Two on March 19 at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia. As the vice president strolled by, she rendered no return salute to her honor guard, who were left standing ramrod straight on the flight line in the night air.
It’s hard to know exactly why Harris didn’t offer a salute in return: Maybe she was busy mulling things over in her mind, like how the presidential administration she’s a part of will handle the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic how best to help the millions of Americans struggling financially due to the economic fallout brought on by said pandemic how to ease divisions in a country whose capital still has a contingent of National Guardsmen deployed there following the Jan. 6 riot or perhaps she thought to herself ‘hey, I’m not in the military. I’m a civilian and this isn’t my place.’
Whatever reason Harris had for not returning the salute, there’s one indisputable fact: She didn’t have to anyway. And had the video shown President Joe Biden, or former President Donald Trump, or Vice President Mike Pence, they wouldn’t have been required to either, for that matter.
Why? Because the presidential salute is not a real thing, and neither is the vice presidential salute.
But that hasn’t kept people from losing their minds, from former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, to conservative talk show host Charlie Kirk, to Fox News anchor Sean Hannity.
And this isn’t the first time this topic has generated a digital uproar. Back in September 2014, then-President Barack Obama faced criticism for rendering what was, quite frankly, a very lazy latte salute. (In an earlier customs-and-courtesies-controversy, in March 2013 Obama passed right by a Marine without returning a salute. And though he quickly disembarked Marine One to shake the Marine’s hand, it inspired an unfounded rumor that the President of the United States was ordered off the helicopter by the pilot because he snubbed a Marine.)
However, as Brian Jones previously wrote for Task & Purpose, there is no regulation that requires presidents to salute the troops. In fact, for most of the country’s history, “presidential salutes” weren’t a thing, not even among those military leaders-turned-presidents, like Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, or Teddy Roosevelt.
Instead, it was just something President Ronald Reagan decided to start doing one day. It’s true. After taking office in 1981, Reagan started saluting service members he encountered during the course of his presidential duties and the tradition hasn’t stopped since. Here’s how Reagan explained it while speaking with military personnel and their families back in 1986:
I can’t resist telling you a little story that I’ve just told the Marine guard at the embassy. The story has to do with saluting. I was a second lieutenant of horse cavalry back in the World War II days. As I told the admiral, I wound up flying a desk for the Army Air Force. And so, I know all the rules about not saluting in civilian clothes and so forth, and when you should or shouldn’t. But then when I got this job and I would be approaching Air Force One or Marine One and those Marines would come to a salute and I — knowing that I am in civilian clothes — I would nod and say hello and think they could drop their hand, and they wouldn’t. They just stood there. So, one night over at the commandant’s quarters, Marine commandant’s quarters in Washington, and I was getting a couple of highballs, and I didn’t know what to do with them. So, I said to the commandant — I said, “Look, I know all the rules about saluting in civilian clothes and all, but if I am the commander in chief, there ought to be a regulation that would permit me to return a salute.” And I heard some words of wisdom. He said, “I think if you did, no one would say anything.”
So, if you see me on television and I’m saluting, you know that I’ve got authority for it now and I do it happily.
Nonetheless, the trend prompted concern from one of his military aides, John Kline, a Marine officer who went on to become a Republican congressman for Minnesota. As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wrote in her 2011 book Drift, Kline was worried that the new tradition blurred the lines between civilian leadership and the military:
Soldiers were supposed to salute their president the president was not supposed to salute the soldiers. No modern president, not even old General Eisenhower, had saluted military personnel. It might even be, well, sort of, improper. Reagan seemed disappointed at this news. Kline suggested he talk to the commandant of the United States Marine Corps and get his advice, and the commandant’s advice ran something like this: You’re the goddamn president. You can salute whoever you goddamn well please. So Ronald Reagan continued saluting his soldiers, and he encouraged his own vice president and successor, George H.W. Bush, to do the same. And every president since has followed.
In terms of actual military orders and regulations, the only guidance involving the President of the United States and the word “salute” applies to service members being required to salute the president, not the other way around. For example, U.S. Army regulation stipulates that “the President of the United States, as the commander in chief, will be saluted by Army personnel in uniform.” The regulation goes on to note that “civilian personnel, to include civilian guards, are not required to render the hand salute to military personnel or other civilian personnel.”
The top spokesman for the Pentagon, John Kirby, provided some additional context on the regulation, noting that while each branch of the military has its own rules for customs and courtesies “there is no overarching instruction or regulation that requires the president or vice president to return hand salutes from members of the Armed Forces.”
“There is no specific requirement for personnel to salute the Vice President, though the Vice President does receive honors, including cannon firing, ruffles and flourishes, and specific music, when visiting military installations or participating in formal functions,” Kirby said. “Finally, the rendering of the hand salute by military personnel is a time-honored tradition and one of the first military lessons installed in new recruits. From their first days in the military, new recruits are taught to salute when they meet more senior leaders — a common phrase among drill instructors is ‘When in doubt, throw it out.’ Our troops demonstrate their respect for the nation’s senior leaders in many ways [rendering] a hand salute is one of them.”
And so there you have it, there is no requirement that the President or Vice President of the United States return a salute.
Nonetheless, given enough time and repetition, anything can become tradition, and traditions, especially those involving the military, quickly become sacred in America. So, although Vice President Harris did not salute those airmen standing at attention on the flight line, it was still expected because past presidents, and vice presidents, have done it before.
But should it be? Really, how badly do we, as service members, veterans, and Americans in general, want to see a politician render what is likely to be a rather distracted and hasty salute to U.S. troops, or to military leaders of a totalitarian state, either with a cup of coffee in hand, or clutching a Scottish Terrier?
Former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and George W. Bush have all rendered awkward, or ill-advised, salutes.
It seems like a better use of everyone’s time, attention, and energy if the top leaders of the United States just dispensed with superficial pomp and circumstance altogether and focused on the more meaningful aspects of their job as it pertains to civilian oversight of the military: Things like ending America’s Forever Wars pressuring members of Congress to update the use of force authorization that has allowed the Global War on Terror to expand under each new presidential administration over the last two decades showing sound judgment and, when necessary, restraint when it comes to exercising military force and ensuring that acts of valor are properly recognized, by awarding deserving heroes the Medal of Honor, like Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe to name a just a few.
Feature image: President Joe Biden returns a salute as he and Vice President Kamala Harris disembark Air Force One after a brief meeting aboard the aircraft parked at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. March 19, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andrew Park)
Update: This article has been updated with a more detailed response from Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby on whether the President and Vice President of the United States are required to return a salute from U.S. military personnel.
James Clarkis the Deputy Editor of Task & Purpose and a Marine veteran. He oversees daily editorial operations, edits articles, and supports reporters so they can continue to write the impactful stories that matter to our audience. In terms of writing, James provides a mix of pop culture commentary and in-depth analysis of issues facing the military and veterans community. Contact the author here.
The History of Taps
Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to render emotion than Taps. Up to the Civil War, the traditional call at day’s end was a tune, borrowed from the French, called Lights Out. In July of 1862, in the aftermath of the bloody Seven Days battles, hard on the loss of 600 men and wounded himself, Union General Daniel Adams Butterfield called the brigade bugler to his tent. He thought “Lights Out” was too formal and he wished to honor his men. Oliver Wilcox Norton, the bugler, tells the story,”…showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an envelope, (he) asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times, playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for Taps thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on that stiff summer night and was heard far beyond the limits of our Brigade. The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring Brigades , asking for copies of the music which I gladly furnished. The call was gradually taken up through the Army of the Potomac.”
This more emotive and powerful Taps was soon adopted throughout the military. In 1874 it was officially recognized by the U.S. Army. It became standard at military funeral ceremonies in 1891. There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.
Wreck of USS Salute (AM-294)
Laid down in November 1942 as an Admirable Class Minesweeper, USS Salute commissioned into US Navy service in December 1943 as a member of the US Pacific Fleet. Engaged in type training so her crew could hone their dangerous task of sweeping harbors and waterways free of enemy mines for several months, the Salute departed US waters in March 1944 bound for Hawaii where she began operations as a convoy escort between Pearl Harbor, Majuro, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Guam, and Saipan.
Continuing this work through October 1944, Salute and her crew received orders to report for duty with the Mine Division 34, US 7th Fleet in preparation for the American Invasion of the Philippines at Leyte Gulf. Commencing her first wartime anti-mine duty off the Leyte beaches on October 20, the Salute and her crew spent over a month sweeping channels and beaches off Leyte and lending fire support to repelling numerous Japanese air attacks on the fleet. Departing Leyte in November only to continue her work up the Philippine Islands Chain, the Salute and her crew spent the next four months in near constant action, providing their services during the invasions at Ormoc Bay, Mindoro, Zambales and Subic Bay, Manila Bay at Mariveles and Corregidor and finally off Legaspi, Luzon before entering Sulu Sea off Palawan and sweeping out mines for eight straight days in April 1945.
With the fighting in the Philippines wrapping up, the Salute and her crew were given a much-needed period of rest as they steamed for Morotai in early May and mustered with the Allied force preparing to invade Borneo in June. Departing for combat once again with Mine Division 34 on June 7th, the Salute and her fellow Minesweepers entered Brunei Bay on June 7th to conduct a pre-invasion sweep of the harbor channels for landing craft. As she entered the harbor the Salute prepared to turn South when she was rocked amidships by a tremendous explosion, courtesy of a Japanese Mine.
The force of the blast snapped the Salute's keel and she immediately began hogging as her dazed crew tried to counteract the flooding now swamping both her Bow and Stern. Landing craft came alongside in an attempt to prop up the rapidly swamping ship, but the Salute's hull had taken fatal damage and within minutes her crew was ordered off the ship. With her entire crew safely off, the lines holding Salute to the landing craft were cut and she was cast loose into Brunei Bay where she quickly swamped, broke in two and sank at this location on June 7th, 1945. Her wreck now lies in two pieces in 98ft of water and is a popular SCUBA wreck dive, despite the presence of live munitions onboard.
For her service in the Second World War, USS Salute received 5 Battle Stars.
Stories I’ve Heard: A Salute to Black History in Provincetown
In honor of Black Lives Matter, I wanted to share an informal retelling of some of the amazing stories about Provincetown’s rich and prominent role in Black history that I have been told through the years and during this Black History Month. As we all know, even with the best of intentions, stories shift over time and each time they’re retold, especially when they’re not written down. Please keep this notion in mind as you read these stories.
The Underground Railroad
Many of you might be surprised to hear that the Underground Railroad came through Provincetown. There is a plaque at 157 Commercial Street (behind Dougie’s salon, on the building that was “The Martin House Restaurant” for years) that memorializes that spot as a “station” along an Underground Railroad route. You might think, “Why? We’re at the end of the world in Provincetown we’re so out of the way. Why would this be a point along the way?”
According to a Provincetown native (and local legend) in her 80s, this is what her parents told her about that time: “Provincetown was a passage for Black people coming north to claim their independence. Sometimes, coming by boat was the safest way to avoid places along the land routes that weren’t friendly/helpful to enslaved people, and later, formerly enslaved people. The boats would come ashore at that beach at 157 Commercial. Sometimes, they’d change boats there. Or they’d leave on land from there. Or, sometimes, they’d have to wait and hide until their next transport arrived, which means the people of Provincetown helped hide them – sometimes in cemetery tombs if needed – until they could leave safely.
“ The Portuguese people in Provincetown wanted to help them on their journey to freedom because the Portuguese people were looked down upon by the Yankees when they first arrived. We were mostly fishermen. Eventually, Portuguese people from the mainland came, but at first, for 100s of years, it was all Azorean people – darker skinned people from the islands – and we were frowned upon.
“I remember my dad saying, ‘We helped them hide because all wanted them to be safe… We wanted them to be safe, free, happy and able to live their lives.’”
Legends at the A-House
Fast forward about 100 years: Another group of influential people of color would come through Provincetown and have an impact.
In the 1950s, when my grandmother and grandfather (Halcyone (Cabral) Hurst and Frank Hurst) bought the A-House with my great uncle (Reggie Cabral), it was already a go-to destination for artists, singers and writers like James Baldwin, who would become known as a leading literary voice of both the civil and emerging gay rights movements. While they owned it, they continued to draw some of the biggest musical names to ever perform, including true icons like Eartha Kitt, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday (who all appeared at the A-House within a month of each other during 1955), among others. It isn’t hard to imagine that those icons and influencers were drawn to Provincetown, and the A-House, because of their acceptance and appreciation for all artists. At the A-House, it didn’t matter if you were white or black, you walked in the front door (or the back door, or wherever you wanted to walk in). Likewise with where you ate. All were treated equally and like family.
The first time Billie Holiday arrived at the A-House, late one night in a cab, my grandfather made her a pork chop sandwich because she was starving just like he would for his cousin whom he wanted to feel welcome. On another occasion, when she had a sudden craving for a hot dog, she sent my dad to the hot dog stand to get one for her, gave him $100 and told him to keep the change just like she would a nephew she wanted to spoil.
When Ella Fitzgerald was doing a sound check in the “Big Room” of the A-House one hot afternoon with the windows wide open, she heard my dad and aunt bickering out back. They were taking jabs at each other and, knowing it was a bad word but not knowing how or why, he used the slur. Ella overheard it, came out, sat my dad on her knee and explained to him with grace, kindness and patience why that was a hurtful, awful word just like she would a younger brother she wanted to teach.
Speaking of Provincetown’s booming summer nights, we have always relied on summer work reinforcement to help us run our businesses in those very busy months.
Beginning in the late 80s/early 1990s, one group who came to help the community and, ultimately, became an integral part of it, are Jamaicans. Some of my fondest memories are of waiting tables at The Surf Club in the mid-90s when the Powell family first arrived and worked there. They are a family from Jamaica, who have been coming in different combinations, each summer, for decades and have helped many local businesses thrive during the tourist season. Eventually, more and more of these families ended up staying in Provincetown year-round, working, living and raising families.
Of all the different groups who have come here as summer help, there has not been a group who’s reinforced not only our summer workforce, but our community – like the Jamaicans who have made Provincetown their home in recent years.
With that in mind, here’s a shoutout to another nonprofit in Provincetown, the Provincetown Film Society, which excels at sharing stories and voices from all walks of life, from all of Provincetown’s diverse community, and far beyond. To pay tribute to the vibrancy of the Jamaican culture and people in Provincetown, they feature a Jamaican Film Festival each year to showcase the outstanding actors, directors and moviemakers coming out of Jamaica.
These are just a few stories, from a few conversations. There is so much more about all of Provincetown’s people that we need to uncover, record and share.
At PMPM, we want to keep telling accurate, compelling stories about Provincetown’s history and its impact on the national narrative. Please consider supporting our efforts by donating so that case by case, exhibit by exhibit and – someday – wing by wing – we can remain committed to telling the stories, and getting them right, of the many people who’ve influenced this small town we all hold so dear.
To learn more about the A-House, it’s incredible history and the legendary talent that made it a point to visit year after year, please read this article in Building Provincetown .
Where did the Nazi salute come from?
Lots of national gestures have meaning behind them, but the Hitler salute, known in German as Der Deutsche Grub, carries such heavy connotations, that in certain parts of the world you can be arrested for doing it. But just where does this infamous salute come from?
Like many of the symbols of Nazi Germany, it was not created by the party. Adopted in the 1930s it is commonly believed that the salute was based on an ancient salute used by the Romans. Although there are no contemporary Roman texts that make reference to this salute, the Nazis can be forgiven for believing it was Roman as many 19th and 20th century plays, artwork and movies depicted the salute as ‘Roman.’ The first time the salute can be seen is in the Jacques-Louis David painting Oath of the Horatii created in 1784.
However, it wasn’t the Nazis who adopted this salute first, but the Italian Fascist party, who in turn adopted it from earlier Italian nationalist and proto-fascist Gabriele d’Annunzio. World War I hero, poet, playwrite and rabble rouser, d’Annunzio marched 2,600 volunteers into the city of Fiume (now Rijeka in Croatia) to claim it for Italy. There, as leader of the short-lived Italian Regency of Carnaro, he made use of many of the trappings that Mussolini would later co-opt including the title Duce, black shirted militia, and – more significantly for this article – the “Roman” salute.
This was an uncomfortable truth for the Nazis who despite the early role that Mussolini and the Italian Fascists had in shaping Hitler’s political ideology, had no wish to be seen as following in anyone’s footsteps. Instead Adolf Hitler himself helped create an ahistorical new narrative that bypassed Benito and stuck firmly to German, rather than Latin, roots.
“I’d read the description of the sitting of the Diet of Worms,” explained Hitler in 1942, “in the course of which Luther was greeted with the German salute. It was to show him that he was not being confronted with arms, but with peaceful intentions. In the days of Frederick the Great, people still saluted with their hats, with pompous gestures. In the Middle Ages, the serfs humbly doffed their bonnets, whilst the noblemen gave the German salute.
“It was in the Ratskeller at Bremen, about the year 1921, that I first saw this style of salute. It must be regarded as a survival of an ancient custom, which originally signified: ‘See, I have no weapon in my hand!’ I introduced the salute into the Party at our first meeting in Weimar. The SS at once gave it a soldierly style.”
One man stands alone with arms crossed as all around him people perform the Nazi salute.
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The 21-gun salute originally demonstrated peaceful intentions
According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, the roots of the 21-gun salute actually date back to before guns were even invented. It has been a more or less universal custom for people across the globe to perform some kind of action that render their weapons unusable in the moment in order to show that their intentions are peaceful. The cannon salute came about in the 14th century. Since early cannons could only be fired once before having to take up the lengthy process of reloading them, warships would fire their cannons upon approaching foreign ports to show they couldn't fire them again. The original practice was to fire seven-gun salutes, a number inspired either by the Bible or by the stars. Whether inspired by the Sabbath or the moon phases or the number of known planets in the solar system at the time, the exact reason is not known with certainty. Today I Found Out (found on YouTube) posits that it could have just been that ships only had seven cannons on board.
Since batteries on land had more gunpowder, they were able to use more of it in their return salutes, firing three times for every gun on the ship that was coming ashore. The Center of Military History doesn't know how this number came about either, but says it "probably was chosen because of the mystical significance of the number three in many ancient civilizations."
World War II ships sank due to mines or torpedoes sat at the bottom of our waters created the sense of peace in their final resting place. Diving here will give the divers the feeling of going back in time with history.
Brunei showcase some of the most fantastic dive sites to be found in the region with many shipwrecks and pristine coral reefs.
The reefs are untouched and diving community here is small making your diving experience feeling like an explorer diving into sites not much dove.
Muck diving giving avid photographers the opportunity to capture images of nudi branch, frog fishes, blemies, gobies, cowries, crab and shrimps. Photographer and divers will be able to capture the behavior of the critters here as they do not recognize divers and will go along doing their daily routine.
Shipwrecks with historic value are found in the waters. World War II ships sank due to mines or torpedoes sat at the bottom of our waters created the sense of peace in their final resting place. Diving here will give the divers the feeling of going back in time with history.
The weather in Brunei is pretty much unpredictable making diving available whole year round with occasional tails of typhoon blowing past. Basically, month from March till November shows more stable weather with the challenging Dec till February month facing some winds but visibility at these period can be very amazing.
The Long History of the Nazi Salute and the USA
Photo by Jack Gilroy, Great Bend, Penn., September 28, 2020.
If you do a web search for images of “Nazi salute” you find old photos from Germany and recent photos from the United States. But if you search for images of “Bellamy salute” you find countless black-and-white photographs of U.S. children and adults with their right arms raised stiffly out in front of them in what will strike most people as a Nazi salute. From the early 1890s through 1942 the United States used the Bellamy salute to accompany the words written by Francis Bellamy and known as the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1942, the U.S. Congress instructed Americans to instead place their hands over their hearts when swearing allegiance to a flag, so as not to be mistaken for Nazis.[i]
Jacques-Louis David’s 1784 painting The Oath of the Horatii is believed to have begun the fashion that lasted for centuries of depicting ancient Romans as making a gesture very similar to the Bellamy or Nazi salute.[ii]
A U.S. stage production of Ben Hur, and a 1907 film version of the same, made use of the gesture. Those using it in U.S. dramatic productions of that period would have been aware of both the Bellamy salute and the tradition of depicting a “Roman salute” in neoclassical art. As far as we know, the “Roman salute” was never actually used by the ancient Romans.
Of course, it’s a very simple salute, not hard to think up there are only so many things humans can do with their arms. But when Italian fascists picked it up, it had neither survived from ancient Rome nor been newly invented. It had been seen in Ben Hur, and in several Italian films set in ancient times, including Cabiria (1914), written by Gabriele D’Annunzio.
From 1919 to 1920 D’Annunzio made himself the dictator of something called the Italian Regency of Carnaro, which was the size of one small city. He instituted many practices that Mussolini would soon appropriate, including the corporate state, public rituals, black-shirted thugs, balcony speeches, and the “Roman salute,” which he would have seen in Cabiria.
By 1923, Nazis had picked up the salute for greeting Hitler, presumably copying the Italians. In the 1930s fascist movements in other countries and various governments around the world picked it up. Hitler himself recounted a medieval German origin for the salute, which, as far as we know, is no more real that the ancient Roman origin or half the stuff that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.[iii] Hitler certainly knew of Mussolini’s use of the salute and almost certainly knew of the U.S. use. Whether the U.S. connection inclined him in favor of the salute or not, it seems not to have dissuaded him from adopting the salute.
The official salute of the Olympics is also very similar to these other ones, though rarely used because people don’t want to look like Nazis. It was widely used at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and confused a lot of people then and ever since as to who was saluting the Olympics and who was saluting Hitler. Posters from the 1924 Olympics show the salute with the arm almost vertical. A photograph from the 1920 Olympics shows a somewhat different salute.
It seems that a number of people had a similar idea around the same time, perhaps influenced by each other. And it seems that Hitler gave the idea a bad name, leading everybody else to drop, modify, or downplay it from that point forward.
What difference does it make? Hitler could have instituted that salute without the United States existing. Or if he couldn’t have, he could have instituted some other salute that would have been no better or worse. Yes, of course. But the problem is not where the arm is placed. The problem is the mandatory ritual of militarism and blind, servile obedience.
It was strictly required in Nazi Germany to give the salute in greeting, accompanied by the words Hail Hitler! or Hail Victory! It was also required when the National Anthem or the Nazi Party Anthem was played. The national anthem celebrated German superiority, machismo, and war.[iv] The Nazi anthem celebrated flags, Hitler, and war.[v]
When Francis Bellamy created the Pledge of Allegiance, it was presented as part of a program for schools that blended religion, patriotism, flags, obedience, ritual, war, and heaps and heaps of exceptionalism.[vi]
Of course, the current version of the pledge is slightly different from above and reads: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”[vii]
Nationalism, militarism, religion, exceptionalism, and a ritual oath of loyalty to a piece of cloth: this is quite a mix. Imposing this on children has got to be among the worst ways to prepare them to oppose fascism. Once you’ve pledged your allegiance to a flag, what are you to do when someone waves that flag and screams that evil foreigners need to be killed? Rare is the U.S. government whistleblower or war veteran peace activist who won’t tell you how much time they spent trying to deprogram themselves of all the patriotism that was put into them as children.
Some people who visit the United States from other countries are shocked to see children standing, using the modified salute of hand-on-heart, and robotically reciting a loyalty oath to a “nation under God.” It seems that the modification of hand position has not succeeded in preventing them looking like Nazis.[viii]
The Nazi salute has not simply been abandoned in Germany it has been banned. While Nazi flags and chants can occasionally be found at racist rallies in the United States, they are forbidden in Germany, where neo-Nazis sometimes wave the flag of the Confederate States of America as a legal means of making the same point.
In 1937, seeing the anti-Semitic and radical turn of his country under Hitler’s leadership, he decided to flee to Denmark with his family but they were detained at the border. He was prosecuted and charged for the crimes of “dishonoring the race ”and“ racial infamy ”and, in 1938, he was informed that he was going to be acquitted if he broke off his relationship with Irma. August did not accept and was sentenced to spend three years in a concentration camp while his wife, who was pregnant, was also arrested and taken to another field where their daughter Irene was born. There, they separated Irma from her daughters and finally ended her life in an extermination field.
When August was released he did not know where his wife or daughters were, and immediately he was enlisted and brought to the front where he probably died since they never found his remains. This story of defiance and death could have ended anonymously, like many others in that time of death and pain, but this time it was not so. In 1996 this story of human dignity by refusing to salute the Nazi came to light thanks to the work of August’s daughter Irene.
In 2018, the fascist salute was prohibited in Germany and Austria, and those who use the phrase, Sieg Heil! can be sentenced to up to three years in jail.