Ronald Reagan was the first president in modern times to salute the troops. Even General Eisenhower did not do this when he became commander-in-chief. It simply was not the custom. But, the impact it made was enormous …
Photo Courtesy of Ronald Reagan Library“We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free. – Ronald Reagan, Speech at Omaha Beach at 40th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1984
Excerpt from Lead Like Reagan, Principles of Dynamic Leadership
He inherited a military that had been taken for granted; had been neglected. Little respect had been given to the men and women in uniform, and morale among the troops was very low. America was still suffering from the divisive results of the Vietnam War that had ended eight years earlier. By some estimates, half of the military planes and ships were in unworkable condition, due to a lack of spare parts. And then, Reagan began saluting the troops.
A simple gesture of enormous impact
It was a simple gesture, but one of enormous importance and effect. Word spread like wildfire throughout the military and civilian population alike. Reagan was saluting the troops. It was a common topic of conversation at restaurants, boardrooms and barbecues: “Did you see Reagan salute that marine?” Without a single word being spoken, The Great Communicator sent the strongest of messages:
- We respect you as the men and women of our military.
- We honor your service to our country.
- You have our back, and we have yours.
- We are a team!
If you were born before the mid 60’s, you are old enough to remember the great impact Reagan’s salutes made on those serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Secret Service. Military and law enforcement personnel everywhere took notice. The effect of this leadership is evident by the fact that all of Reagan’s successors have followed the precedent he set.
* Note: This article was originally published as a post on the Linkedin “I Miss Ronald Reagan” group’s blog. The author is President – of Scanlon, Clay & Company and author of numerous books including “Lead Like Reagan”. To learn more about the book, click here: Lead Like Reagan.
Postscript from “The Crusty Conservative”:
Unfortunately the current occupant of the White House has denigrated President Reagan’s great tradition to a routine, hallow, insincere gesture that he has to get over with ASAP.
The Crusty Conservative
“… individuals may injure a whole society, by not declaring their sentiments.
It is therefore not only their right, but their duty, to declare them.”