Salute the Rank, Not the Man
At the start of the mini- series, Band of Brothers, Sobel was Winters’ superior and the Commanding Officer of Easy Company. But his intense and vindictive leadership style was losing him the respect of the company and of Winters. He saw Winters’ leadership potential and instead of fostering it, he tried undermining him. This insecurity was projected in military exercises were he lacked vision and direction. Eventually, he got demoted, and Winters took over.
This scene was set at the end of the war. Winters was now a Major and Sobel a Captain; Winters outranked Sobel. And when Sobel noticed Winters in the Jeep, he diverted his gaze, in attempt to ignore him. When Sobel walked by without saluting, Winters says, “we salute the rank, not the man.”
The military has a strong chain of command. If an officer is your superior, they demand your respect. Even if you don’t like them. In this case, the two men didn’t like each other. But in a professional environment, you put your feelings aside and respect your superior.