Commissioning Week: Traditions, Folklore, and Pranks

We are sure of one thing --- the origin of the silver dollar salute is unknown.

Some believe it began in the US Colonial era, passed on from British troops. Officers assigned to the new troops would teach them army history and traditions. The advisor was compensated with a silver dollar. In 1816 $25.00 was a month pay, with a ration allowance of $3.00 and an allowance of $1.00 for the enlisted advisor. The pay was eventually dropped but the responsibility for advising was not.

Only a silver dollar by tradition can be given as a salute. Today it is worth much more than a dollar, but it represents the respect one finds in his/her new position.

It is not unique to the Naval Academy , but it is a tradition -- for a newly commissioned officer to hand a silver dollar to the first midshipman or enlisted who salutes him/.her. During the 19th century one dollar was given an officer for an aide. It is believed this 19th century tradition was the origin of the custom. The silver dollar represents the appreciation an officer has for the enlisted for the knowledge they pass on.

During Commissioning Week 2015 I was told the story of a new graduate rushing back to Bancroft. So excited, he ran past a female officer and forgot to salute. He even had a silver dollar in his pocket to honor the tradition. Later he realized his mistake. Then, some 20 years later, he met the officer in the fleet. He reached in his pocket, pulled out the silver dollar, and handed in to the officer. He had kept it in his pocket for those twenty years. The officer did not remember him, but he had remembered her.








Color Girl tradition may be drummed out