According to the rather boring sounding Marine Corps Order 1510.60B, otherwise known as the Marine Corps official History, Customs and Courtesy orders, the hand salute originated as a sign to a would-be aggressor that any given individual was approaching not in search of individual combat, but with friendship and goodwill, hence the showing of an empty right (fighting) hand. With the passing of time the raised right hand developed into the tipping of the hat, or at least touching the brim of the hat, as a sign of respect either to a social or military superior, or to any lady. Early in the 19th century, the proverbial tip ‘o the cap became the sharp, snappy hand salute we as a nation expect from any professional in uniform, be they military, law enforcement or firefighters.
Not exactly Obama’s first misfire on how to pay proper respect to the American flag and/or those required to salute his office, the former Illinois Senator was seen during his initial run for the White House in 2007-2008 appearing more than a little unfamiliar with the proper posture for either the hand salute or where to place his hand during the play of the National Anthem (see slideshow). Once assuming office, the Chief Executive appears to have improved on the basic two-count hand salute, yet still may need additional personal instruction on what he should do with his cell phone and disposable cup.