Salute The Quarterdeck

There is  slightly complex sequence of behaviour required to board an American warship in harbour. This involves proceeding up the gangway but not stepping aboard until you have saluted the quarterdeck flag and the person controlling the ship’s end of the gangway. You ask permission to board and do not step on until it is given. The rank of the person at the entry point is not relevant…if they are the authorised controller of this entry they represent the captain of the ship who has final say on who boards.

If you are doing this at sea the formalities are truncated, and if you are swinging aboard on a rope while firing a pistol at the crew you hardly have to pause at all…

Similar formalities probably attend entry to ereryone else’s ships, and army and air force bases…in the case of some you are issued security clearances after documents are inspected and these clearances are retrieved as you leave. Mind you, the army tank museum has a policy that if you can carry it out, it’s yours…

I should like to see the establishment of similar rituals in civilian life with regard to who comes in and why. Too often we open the door to relatives and in-laws without a bye-your-leave and they never buy and they just don’t leave…for hours at a time…I am not sure whether there is actually a quarterdeck in the average family home…perhaps the lounge room…but maybe we could do as Japanese homemakers do and deliberately incorporate a family altar or place of beauty in the front room, and the visitors could salute this as a promise that they will behave.

In return, I would be willing to accord them all courtesies…while having them closely escorted by armed Marines.

 

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