Why The First Salute?

The first salute also called the “Silver Dollar Salute” is one of the most important traditions in a new Marine Officers commissioning ceremony.

Who gives the first salute?

The first salute lives on as a tradition to honor the enlisted service member who has had the most impact on you. Many candidates choose a Sergeant Instructor they were particularly impressed with or ask a family member or mentor who has served for this honor. For PLC candidates, it is common to have your OSA render the first salute. There aren’t many restrictions on who can give the first salute, so long as they served on the enlisted side. Many NROTC Midshipman or prior service Marines choose someone from their unit for this honor.

first salute
The Morgan Silver Dollar. 90% silver and an excellent choice for the first salute.

Customs and courtesies

  • The enlisted member of choice renders the first salute to the new 2ndLt.
  • The 2ndLt returns the first salute and cuts (drops) the salute first.
  • The 2ndLt shakes hands with the enlisted servicemember, passing them a silver dollar (with the other hand) as they do. This provides an opportunity to pass a word of thanks or advice from either party.

Where do I get A silver dollar? (Yes, quality matters).

While silver dollars are easy to come by,

you should buy a high-quality silver dollar to give to this service member. Ideally, the silver dollar will come with a display case.

A silver dollar minted 100 years before the commissioning year or minted in another significant year add a nice touch to the custom.

Wondering about the worth of a silver dollar? Use Coinflation to calculate it’s worth and metal composition.

You can find some good silver dollar choices at JM Bullion or at Amazon.

The Lady Liberty Silver Dollar
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