Friday, November 19, 2010


UPDATE: For those arguing it is improper for Obama to Salute, here are two links to video of him saluting as he enters Marine One.


A moment of national pride took place recently in the White House when an American soldier, Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, received the Medal of Honor for bravery above and beyond the call of duty in combat in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Giunta became the first living American soldier to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. He is now one of only eighty-eight (88) living holders of the Medal of Honor.

As modest and self-effacing as he is brave, Sgt. Giunta brought further honor to himself by his humility in receiving the nation’s highest medal of valor. While he made no comment in the ceremony, Giunta said before the ceremony that he was “not at peace” with being “singled out” for the honor as so many other soldiers did so much. And after the ceremony, he said he would trade the honor in a moment if he could bring back those whose lives he attempted to save under enemy fire but was unable to save. He definitely showed that he was an American in whom America could be proud.

In contrast, there was another “first” at the ceremony involving the Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Hussein Obama, in whose conduct the nation cannot and should not take pride: As far as is known, Obama became the first President, the first Commander-in-Chief , not to salute the living recipient of the Medal of Honor after presenting the medal.

It is a tradition in the military for all military personnel, no matter how high their rank, including the Commander-in-Chief, to salute a holder of the Medal of Honor no matter how lowly his or her rank. If General David Petraeus was to encounter Sgt. Giunta, it would be the General who would salute the enlisted man, as a sign of respect for that soldier’s extraordinary bravery, but also to show respect to all those who have received the Medal of Honor.

At all gatherings of veterans of the American Legion, or VFW, or other veterans organizations, if a Medal of Honor recipient enters the room, even a National Convention involving thousands, the proceedings stop to render military honor to that holder of the Medal of Honor. All veterans rise, come to attention, and salute. It is a matter of pride, of respect, of tradition.

And, as far as is known, it is tradition that every President who has had the honor to present the Medal of Honor to a living recipient, has shown humility, respect, and national pride in that recipient by stepping back and rendering a salute.

It was missing in action in the Obama presentation. He is apparently above all that; “like a God,” as an editor of Newsweek once wrote.

Instead of rendering the traditional salute, after fumbling as if all-thumbs in trying to affix the blue-ribboned Medal of Honor, Obama, equally awkwardly, tried to “hug” the Sergeant. Yes, a “hug” for the soldier who remained at attention with eyes front in military bearing.

But a “hug” is not a “salute,” even in the Age of Obama. While there may be some comedic value in Obama’s pathetic display, it was more emetic than comedic. I didn’t write about it at the time, so as not to distract from Sgt. Giunta’s receipt of the Medal of Honor. But days have passed, and it needs to be said.

Why? Is it naught but petty carping of poor President Obama? I think not. He is the “Commander-in-Chief” who has in his power the lives of those who serve in defense of the country, which he himself did not deign to do. It is pointing out this man, this professional politician, repeatedly evidences contempt for America, for America’s traditions, and for Americans who respect those traditions.

It is as if he loathes the nation he was so desperate to lead, and be loved by, Messiah-like. It is of a piece with his constant misquoting of the Declaration of Independence by leaving out the words “endowed by their Creator” when speaking of “unalienable rights.”

Perhaps more aptly: It is of a pathetic piece with Obama’s penchant for declining to abide by the U.S. Flag Code when the Flag passes to place his hand over his heart. Instead, he drapes his arms down and enfolds his hands at his crotch Michael Jackson-style. It is now mocked as Obama’s “crotch salute.” But it isn’t funny. It is contempt by Obama for the Flag, for America.

Perhaps it is unfair to criticize this President of the United States for displaying such contempt for American traditions. Perhaps it is too much to expect an American President to salute a recipient of the military Medal of Honor when that president never served in the uniform of his country; has said that the Rules For Radicals of the America-hating socialist revolutionist Saul Alinsky are “seared into my [his] brain;” who launched his political career in Chicago from the living room of the revolutionist Weather Underground rich-brat-bombers Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn; and who sat for twenty years in a pew of the church of Rev. “God D...n America” Wright, being marinated in hate-filled, grievance-filled, self-defined “anti-white” and “revolutionary” Black Liberation Theology .

Then again, perhaps it is not too much to expect anyone who would be America’s president to at least respect American traditions, including honoring the Flag, and saluting those who receive the Medal of Honor.

(Rees Lloyd, longtime civil rights attorney and American Legionnaire, is the director of the Defense of Veterans Memorials Project of the American Legion Department of California and the Alliance Defense Fund.)
Curiously, towards the end of the full length video supplied by the White House HERE and during the Chaplains closing prayer, Barack Obama is briefly seen raising his eyes with his head partially bowed as if looking at a clock to see if the ceremony is over yet.


Hot Sam said...

He tries to hug a brave warrior but bows before foreign leaders.

What a disgrace!

LewWaters said...


You nailed that one, Nick.

Toni said...

Terrific and thoughtful article! In this day when everything is being shifted from our traditional and customary, dare I, familiar culture, to one of open disregard, I am glad there are watchers, sentinels if you will, to remind us the subtle changes were inappropriate! We have embraced a world of diversity, political correctness and 'my way' for so long we have come to accept such deviation as 'self expression'.

The young Sgt. is outstanding in his presentation of the 'military' custom and tradition. May he blessed with peace in place of the effects of the trauma he and his fellow soldiers have and are undergoing.

Sandypilot said...

It will be interesting to find out if he was briefed by his military aide about the tradition of saluting the medal during the ceremony. If he was briefed and chose not to follow tradition, then it is disgraceful. Please let us know what you find out.

Your comment about the crotch salute is interesting. Most links show Obama was doing so while they are playing Hail to the Chief, when others are saluting but it would be inappropriate for him to salute himself. Do you have an actual link where he was doing it when the flag was passing by or the national anthem was being played? Thanks,

Kristy M. said...

Salutes are generally not given by anyone not in uniform, even active duty military. President Ronald Reagan began the practice of saluting in 1981. It certainly wasn't any kind of tradition before then.

No American president before Reagan had ever returned a salute, including former five-star Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower. A salute is a MILITARY sign of respect. Obama, while the commander in chief, is a CIVILIAN. If Eisenhower's behavior, as retired military, was not disrespectful to the military, how can we say that Obama's failure to salute, as a civilian, is disrespectful today?

Military regulations appear to state that a salute is not required when one is wearing civilian clothes. Therefore, Obama would not be required to salute, but it appears that as Commander in Chief, he MAY salute if he chooses to do so, given the change in tradition made by Reagan. A while back, Obama was heavily criticized by Fox News and some military blogs for doing so during the arrival of a military casket. Perhaps he chose not to do so at this occasion in an attempt to avoid controversy at this important ceremony.

Frankly, I can't stand Obama, and I think he's one of the worst presidents we've had recently. That said, this is stupid. There are so many legitimate things to criticize him for (let's start with health care, and my list could go on for miles) so I don't understand why people continue to make things up. It undermines the credibility of Obama's critics and causes people to stop listening.

LewWaters said...

Kristy, Medal of Honor recipients are “entitled” to a salute as a sign of respect for what they went through and did. It’s not really a matter of required, but “entitled to it.”

A salute in the Military, even out, is a sign of respect and even all Veterans are now permitted to salute during the Pledge of Allegiance or playing of the National Anthem, instead of placing their hand over their heart when in civilian clothes.

It really doesn’t matter what others did prior to Reagan, it is a matter of Obama not willing to show respect to a man (in this case) who is awarded the highest honor in the country for bravery. If he can bow before Muslim Royalty, can he not also show some respect to Americans who have faced the ultimate in battle for the nation and survived?

Is it big major issue? No, just another sign of his lack of respect for those better than he is. I say better because no matter what, he can never be awarded such a medal, nor can Bush, Clinton or any other today.