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Voice: Conduct by Marine orderly around new president observed

March 17, 2001

I might be a little biased, but we look at each other to see what we are doing or to see if we are ready for the next step. Our conduct also lets each other know what we are thinking and we communicate this way silently with one another.

Among other things, we do not tuck our ties into our shirts between the spaces provided by spacing of our shirt buttons. Another such tradition was observed recently at the south lawn at the White House. It was silent and in all probability noticed; it was seen but not noticed. To us Marines, the message was ever so loudly expressed.

This tradition evolved from the days our Navy used riggings. The assigned Marine orderly (guard) to the ships always faced the ship's captain regardless whether the Marine orderly would end up facing the captain's front or back; regardless of the captain's direction of movement. The reason the Marine orderly always faced the captain was in order to be ready to receive an order.

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Eventually, this tradition evolved to what we see today in paying respect to a (new) president. When President George W. Bush approached to board HM-1 (Marine 1 Helicopter) at the south lawn of the White House, the Marine guard at HM-1 saluted the president. The commander-in-chief returned his salute and continued to board. The Marine guard then executed a right face to face the president's back ready to receive an order (render respect). Execution of this tradition had been missing in the last couple of years at the White House.

We spoke and our conduct said it all.

RAMIRO A. CASTILLO

El Centro

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