If there’s one thing we know about Marines, it’s that they positively, absolutely, fundamentally love to salute the shinies. They just can’t help themselves. Curiously, despite the fact that Marines are known to engage in rigorous physical activity in their day to day, most standard issue rank is made from shiny brass with some black paint put over the top. This inevitably leads to the paint chipping away against flak jackets, et all, revealing the shiny beneath.
Can you blame Marines for saluting the mistaken sheen? Life aboard a Marine base is stressful as a junior enlisted. You are constantly on edge waiting for a Staff NCO or Officer to come around the corner and demand to be greeted–and greeted properly. God forbid you get the rank or rate wrong, even though collar rank is barely an inch wide.
Having never been an officer myself, I have to assume that the feeling of being saluted is elating. You simply exist, shiny and chrome, and the enlisted must acknowledge your existence by military law, with their disgusting un-shiny ranks atop their collars.
What a life.