Aquatank, nothing was contrived, It was only my own observation and my own opinion about his way of Saluting, sending a message. John is correct, comparison to a shopping mall with security guards is rediculas. Since George Washington, our branches of the military has been been on active status 24/7 for over 230 years. The Command sturcture from the top down has always been the President, and the Chain of command downward has never been inactive. Military order, and command, has never taken a minute off since we became a country, and never will. The military tradition and protocol, and respect for the chain of command has always been, thruout the history of the USA. The President wears 2 hats, and I;m not sure either one is consided a civilian, when you have been elected and have sworn to an Oath by the highest level of the Judiciary System. As President he is chief Executive or out country and heads one of the 3 branches of Governement. The fact we have a Legislative Branch of Governement is why we do not have Dictatorships, not a military reason. The Presidents 2nd hat, is Commander in Chief. Becasue he does not wear a uniform, does not make in a civilian by any means.
No matter what the rules about Saluting and returning one, If you return a Salute, it should be to whoever has Saluted you, not a crowd or TV camera. Not returning a Salute would be more proper than returning a Salute for a show or to a nearby crowd.