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Attention is the most basic of all military positions. When you stand at Attention you are indicating that you are alert and ready to receive instructions. When called to Attention you will bring the heel of your left foot to the heel of your right foot. At Attention, you stand straight with your heels together. Your feet will form a 45-degree angle and your head and body will be erect, hips and shoulders level, and your chest will be lifted. Your arms will hang naturally with your thumbs aligned with the seam of your trousers or skirt. Your fingers will be joined and allowed to curl naturally. Your legs will be straight, but do not lock your knees. Your head and eyes should be directed forward. Your mouth should be closed and your chin should be tucked in slightly
The command “Parade Rest” is only given when the formation is at attention. In a single movement, bring your left foot out to shoulder width and join your hands, right over left, palms facing away from your body, at the small of your back.
When given the command “At Ease” you may relax and move about. While at ease your right foot must remain in place. While in this position you are not allowed to talk.
This command is not the same as Dismissed. “Fall Out” means you are free to break ranks, but you must remain nearby. When given the command “Fall In” return to your place in ranks and come to Attention.
Some ceremonies and inspections will require you to remove your cover. The command “Uncover Two” is used to direct this action. When you hear the command “Uncover”, raise your hand as you would during the hand salute but grab the brim of your cover instead of touching your forehead. When you hear the command “Two” lift your hat a bit to avoid messing up your hair and then return your hand to your side in a direct manner. Do not use a sweeping gesture that is exaggerated. On the command “Cover”, grasp your hat with both hands and place it firmly on your head. Drop your left hand, leaving your right hand holding the brim of the cover until you hear the command “Two”. You may now drop your right hand to your side.
Command: “Right (left) Face”. At the command “Face” slightly raise the left heel and right toe. Face the right, turning on the right heel, putting pressure on the ball of the foot and holding the left leg straight. Then place the left foot smartly beside the right one.
Command: “Left Face”. At the command “Face” slightly raise the right heel and left toe. Face the left, turning on the left heel, putting pressure on the ball of the foot and holding the right leg straight. Then place the right foot smartly beside the left one.
Command: “About Face”. At the command, place the toe of the right foot about half-foot to the rear and slightly to the left of the left heel without moving the left foot. Put the weight of the body mainly on the heel of the left foot, right leg strait. Then turn to the rear, moving to the right on the left heel and the ball of the right foot. Place the right heel beside the left to complete the movement.
The leader has the choice of two commands when he or she wants the members to align themselves with each other. The first, “Dress Right, Dress” (normal interval) aligns members at arm’s length while the second, “At a Close Interval, Dress Right, Dress” cuts the distance between members in half.
Dress Right Dress
On the command “Dress Right, Dress”, all division members except the right flank member turn their heads and look and align themselves to the right. At the same time, each division member except the flank member lifts their arm shoulder high (normal interval), or places their left hand on their hip (close interval). The right flank member holds position (stands fast) and looks to the front. The other division members use the right flank member as a guide and take short steps as necessary to align themselves and to achieve the proper interval. Once the alignment is complete, division members hold their position until the “Ready, Front” command is given. At this time, division members snap back to the Attention position.
About the hand salute
- Customs are usual ways of acting in a given situation. A custom is a long established practice that carries the force of law. Courtesies are acts, or words, that express consideration and respect for another person.
- The salute is one of the required acts of military courtesy. Regulations covering the salute are deeply embedded in military tradition and custom. The salute shows respect and is a sign of comradeship.
- There are several types of salutes, including the gun salute and rifle salute, but the most common, and possibly the most important is the hand salute.
- The hand salute is a simple, dignified gesture, which is rendered to the National Anthem, the U.S. Flag, and officers.
- Unless you are walking, the hand salute should be rendered while standing at attention.
Guidelines on the hand salute
- Raise the right hand and bending your arm at the elbow, until the tip of your forefingers touches the lower part of your cover or forehead just above and to the right of your right eye.
- Fingers are extended and aligned with the thumb.
- With the elbow slightly in front of your body, your upper arm should be parallel with the deck or ground.
- The hand and wrist must be held in a straight line and the forearm should be at a 45-degree angle.
- Returning the arm to its normal position at your side completes the salute. This motion is done in one sharp, clean motion.
What to do when saluting
- Salute properly and smartly.
- Avoid saluting in a casual or perfunctory manner.
- A sharp salute is a mark of a sharp Sailor.
- Always use your right hand.
- Use your left hand only if your right hand is injured. Use your left hand to carry objects and leave your right hand free to salute.
- Accompany your salute with a cheerful greeting, e.g., “Good morning, Sir,” “Good afternoon, Commander Howington,” “Good evening, Chaplain Dory.”
- Always salute from the position of attention.
- If you are walking, you need not stop, but hold yourself erect and square.
- If double timing, slow to a walk when saluting.
- Look directly into the officer’s eyes as you salute.
- Salute all officers who are close enough to be recognized as officers.
- It is unnecessary to identify an officer by name. However, make sure that he/she is wearing the uniform of an officer. Render a verbal greeting if you are carrying something in both hands and cannot render the hand salute.
- Salute officers even if they are uncovered or their hands are occupied. Your salute will be acknowledged by a verbal greeting, like “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon.”