You salute the rank, not the man. Humility is a valuable trait in any leader. I had a battalion commander that would always remark during a promotion ceremony that achieving rank shows merely the potential, it is on the man to earn their rank once promoted. Having the ability to separate yourself from your opinions and stances, to simply do what is needed, regardless of anyone’s personal feelings on the matter or task at hand. Recognizing that the only reason you were selected for more responsibility and leadership, was due to what you had exhibited and produced before anything was awarded. Too often we assume the rank is our identity and that receiving the rank was only a matter of time, because it is what we deserved (or so we thought).
A great leader is only as great as those who he leads. We salute the rank, because of the generations who wore that rank before us and fought to ensure that one day we would be able to step up and carry the tradition forward for the generations that follow ours. The rank or position is not an identity, it is only a responsibility to those who follow and the humanity of compassion and love for fairness and honesty. To train and mentor the next leaders, to be a model of professionalism and humility.
We are all human, we all have something to contribute. We do not praise the man, rather his accomplishments. We are all born naked into this world with nothing and we will leave this world in the same fashion. No man or woman is better than the other, however; it is what you are willing to do for your fellow man and woman that brings honor and legacy to your name. Honor your name, and the sacrifices your ancestors had to endure to ensure your life. Honor the rank and the responsibility that comes with it, the man will one day pass on, but the rank and the responsibility remain.
If we cannot look to those in the past that made us who we are today, then our hubris will dictate our existence. Hubris leads to trouble and failure. Humility and compassion are what we expect from others, so it is what we should extend to others. The rank is not fallible, the man is.