Coolidge’s Sit-Down Salute


On June 4th 1927, at Hampton Roads, Virginia, President Calvin Coolidge reviewed “the greatest armada the nation has ever assembled” from the yacht, U.S.S. Mayflower. Standing close by where Curtis D. Wilbur, Secretary of the Navy, Admiral E. W. Eberle, Chief of Naval Operations, and many news photographers.

The naval review dragged on painfully for hours and the President stayed at his post saluting every passing ship. Most photographers left to eat the late lunch but one Andrew ‘Buck’ May remained. “Silent Cal” too had retired to a nearby couch. Tired as he was, the president was determined to see the review through. So, every time a ship would move by, he came up with a salute even if he happened to be seated at the moment. May saw this amusing situation and took a picture.

The president gave him a terrible scolding, adding that May was discourteous and should know better. However, he didn’t ask to kill the picture. The picture, which appeared the next day in the Washington Star, brought a chuckle to the public who were only used to seeing ‘Silent Cal’ as a proper New Englander.

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