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Salute Fail? Cadet Bonespurs is Roasted for Unusual Gesture During George HW Bush Tribute

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President Donald Trump has been mocked for saluting the casket of George H.W. Bush.

The president and the first lady, Melania Trump, were among dignitaries to pay their respects at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda to Bush, who died at his Texas home on Friday at age 94.

The former president's body is scheduled to lie in state at the rotunda until Wednesday, when his funeral will take place in Houston.

Footage shows the president and the first lady approaching Bush’s flag-draped casket. The Trumps stand solemnly for a moment, before Trump raises his hand to his face in a salute and Melania places her hand on her chest.

However, the president’s apparent show of respect was lambasted online as inappropriate and incorrect.

The rules for saluting are complex, but the right to salute is widely considered to be earned by military personnel. As Trump has not served in the military, some saw it as improper for the president to salute Bush, particularly as he served in World War II. Bush was the last U.S. president to serve in active combat.

Trump’s saluting technique itself was also criticized. When a salute is performed, the fingers must be kept straight with the thumb in line. Footage from the memorial shows the president’s thumb was slightly bent.

There are exceptions to saluting, however. In 1981, Ronald Reagan is believed to have started the tradition of presidents saluting the military officers flanking his helicopter as he boards it.

This tradition landed President Barack Obama in hot water in 2014, when he saluted a Marine guarding his presidential helicopter while he held a coffee cup in his hand.