Custom and Courtesies in the Army: Upholding Tradition and Respect

Customs and Courtesies in the Army

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Customs and courtesies are the foundation of many organizations. Universities, law enforcement agencies, and the military all have them. Like other organizations, customs, and courtesies in the Army foster discipline and morale while providing a way of sustaining traditions for generations.

Customs and courtesies in the Army are no different. They are a source of pride that any member can attest to. They are marks of respect to self, fellow service members, flag, and country. All members of the army perform them with solemnity and distinction.

It’s important to know what these are and what they mean. It can ensure your actions in a military setting are never disrespectful. Read on to learn more about these Army foundations.

What are Military Customs and Courtesies?

Army customs and courtesies create an inevitable bond among military members, regardless of when they were in service. It can even unite members of the different branches of the armed forces.

This unique military etiquette helps integrate recruits. The rigors of basic training provide the perfect setting for them to learn the meaning behind army customs and courtesies. It becomes second nature as they internalize and incorporate them into their daily routine. That often leads to a greater sense of community and belonging to a meaningful cause.  


Defined as an established practice, customs are positive actions that promote consistent behavior. Military customs can help create a more cordial environment that would otherwise be difficult to maintain in the close quarters of a military base.

An example of a well-known custom in the military is the bugle call. It signifies the daily raising and the lowering of the flag. Service members must stop what they’re doing to stand and salute.


Courtesies are good manners and politeness extended to others during daily interaction. Both are crucial to maintaining discipline in the military. They differ from civilian courtesies in many ways and are essential while serving in uniform.

A typical example of military courtesy is the salute. This seemingly unassuming act has a wealth of meaning behind it. It’s a sign of respect and a recognition of the commitment made by both members. That is true even though the junior officers extend the greeting first. All customs and courtesies in the Army are rooted in respect.

3 Other Military Traditions

Countless movies and television shows replicate army traditions. It’s one of the reasons they’re well-known to civilians as well. Here are three other traditions that may not be as familiar.

Creating Challenge Coins for Brigades

Brigades are battalions comprised of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers. They provide tactical support in both wartime and peacetime. 

Challenge coins are a time-honored tradition. They can symbolize a tour of active duty or a significant event. It’s a commemorative piece that denotes membership and honors those who served bravely as part of a unit. It may often depict a special occasion, achievement, or experience the group has shared. It’s an honored keepsake, allowing unit members to remember those they served with and commemorating any losses.

It is such a significant tradition that has extended beyond the military. Law enforcement agencies, business organizations, and even Presidents now use Challenge Coins. They help boost morale and foster a feeling of belonging to something meaningful.

Denoting Rank with Belt Buckles

Every item on a military uniform is significant. They are either used for practical purposes or to denote a rank or unit. The belt buckle is no exception and has a long history in the US military.

They were first introduced centuries ago to secure weapons and armor during combat. They also kept soldiers’ cloaks fastened. Usually made out of iron, they slowly became more decorative over time.

Silver and gold evolved as the more popular metals of choice, coinciding with the creation of even more intricate designs. They also began to depict an officer’s rank and are still an essential part of military uniforms today.

It’s also often a tell-tale sign of a particular designation, such as the Navy Mustangs. Many of these officers whose actions fast-tracked them to active duty wear a belt buckle depicting the horse of the same name. The Manchu belt buckle is also symbolic and commemorates the 85-mile march of the 9th regiment in the 1900s.

Salute to Colors

We’ve already detailed the importance of saluting fellow military members. It is an act extended to the national flag as well. Salute to colors refers to the saluting of the flag.

Colors are national flags mounted on pikes or short flag staffs. Military personnel must salute from six steps away when passing a national color. They hold the salute until they’ve passed six steps beyond it. They must perform the same act when a national color is passing by. This tradition does not pertain to civilian spectators who may be carrying small flags at a parade.

Having Respect for the Customs and Courtesies of the Army

Seeing some of the more well-known customs and courtesies of the army can invoke a sense of pride in even non-members of the military. That is often due to the solemnity observed while they are being performed. They’re actions steeped in tradition, and understanding their significance isn’t difficult.

For most military members, it continues to be the code they live by, even as they re-enter civilian life. You may no longer experience the disciplined structure that was once a part of your daily routine. Still, it isn’t something you are likely to forget. Despite this, physical reminders of this past life can bring comfort and significance.

Challenge coins and belt buckles are two items that can help keep these memories alive. Lone Star Challenge Coins can create customized replicas of these symbolic items. We also customize lapel pins, medals, patches, and more.

We are a Veteran-managed company, so we know the importance of keeping traditions alive. We can create a unique piece as a reminder of the military time you still hold dear. Contact us to learn more and get a free proof and quote today!

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