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NEWS | Feb. 9, 2011

"Diamond Compliance Corner" - Week of Feb. 4 - 11

By Master Sergeant Nathaniel M. Perry Jr. vv

Whether you are an Air Force parent of six children or a single Airman living in the dorm, I'm sure you have certain rules for residents and guests. Wipe your feet before you come in my home. Take off your shoes before you step on my dorm rug. Call and let me know before you just drop in. Rules, rules, rules! Are rules only there to cause a nuisance to the ones who have to comply with them, or, do they serve another purpose?

As I did a little research to write this article, I found that some of the "rules" of the present have evolved from "courtesies" of the past. A perfect example would be the military salute. Most of us learned about when, where, and how to salute as a result of our MTI screaming it through our ears and embedding it into our brains. "You will salute all officers and staff cars or I will have you saluting your wall locker for the next six hours!!!"

Believe it or not, the history of the salute came along far before your basic training days. Facts are spotty, but one story states that in the age of chivalry when two friendly knights encountered each other, each would raise his helmet visor with his right hand to show his face and to greet the other. Saluting wasn't always about the person's rank or status. It was about greeting someone for whom you had a mutual respect. So when you really think about it, this "rule" shouldn't be that hard to follow. We shouldn't even need reminders, or AFIs, for us to be courteous and respectful to others. Saluting should be something we are proud to have the opportunity to do.

Another mark of respect, or custom and courtesy, is for lower-ranking Airmen to walk or ride to the left side of the senior member he/she is accompanying. The right side is considered a position of honor. Again, draped in tradition, warriors positioned themselves to the left of the senior warrior, allowing for him to draw his sword with his right hand to protect his formation. How honorable is that!

Here are the procedures for a proper salute:
· Air Force members will salute:
 Air Force, U.S., and friendly foreign nation officers senior in rank
 Government vehicles distinguished by vehicle plates and/or flags
· Junior member initiates salute accompanied with verbal greeting and lower-ranking members will hold the salute until returned by the senior member
 In case of GOV, until salute is returned or GOV has passed
· All salutes shall be returned (mutual respect)

Each and every one of us has the responsibility to make sure the customs and courtesies of the Air Force are adhered to. Each time we fail to salute a senior officer, walk on the wrong side of a senior member, or fail to recognize a senior member who enters a room, we miss the opportunity to protect our heritage. Each time we witness someone missing one of these responsibilities and fail to correct him/her, we miss another opportunity to protect our heritage as well.

The Airman's Creed has a line that reads "I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor." Let's live by this line. Whenever we walk past a violation and don't act, we set a new standard. Our Creed does not allow for this. We protect our heritage by showing respect where respect is due. I don't think there is an Airman among us that does not deserve to be shown the courtesy demanded of the Air Force. Let's honor and respect the Air Force's house rules.

Guidance on customs and courtesies can be found in AFI 34-1201 or you can contact your local First Sergeant.