Etiquette for Our National Anthem | People Do Notice

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15-star, 15-stripe "Star-Spangled Banner&...
15-star, 15-stripe “Star-Spangled Banner” flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People Notice More Than You Realize

Over the last few years,  Jim and I have started our own tradition of going to the Appalachian Museum on the 4th of July.  They have a big event on that day that is just a whole lot of fun.  We enjoy the non-commercial atmosphere plus the activities — everything from their anvil shoot, split rail fence making demonstrations, saw mill demonstrations, blacksmith demonstrations, musical performers, and back porch picnic.

The . Original title: The original Star Spangl...
The . Original title: The original Star Spangled Banner “Museum” (from unverified data provided by the National Photo Company on the negative or negative sleeve.) This glass negative might show streaks and other blemishes resulting from a natural deterioration in the original coatings. cropt from LOC file before upload to Wikimedia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the opening of the event, they had one of their staff sing our national anthem – The Star-Spangled Banner.  The woman next to me, who I did not know, said quite loudly so that others could hear, that people should be removing their hats.  It is true that many did not.

I have to admit that I was a little fuzzy on the etiquette.  I knew men should remove their hats (this includes do-rags too, by the way), but should women (the answer is ‘yes’ for sports caps — see below)?  So, in case any of you have a little doubt yourself, below is the official rule from United States Code Title 36, §301.  (see Emily Post for more details)

  1. The Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem

    In 2007, the U.S. Congress addressed etiquette for the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem in 36 USC 301. When saying the pledge of allegiance, citizens of all ages should stand at attention, face the flag, and salute by placing the right hand over the heart. Men should remove their hats, and women any sports caps. When in uniform, military personnel, firefighters, and law enforcement officers give a military salute. Veterans and service personnel out of uniform may give the military salute or place the right hand over the heart.

    Everyone, even very young children, should rise, remain standing, and salute by placing the right hand over the heart during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner—first note to last. The anthem isn’t easy to sing, and you need not do so if you don’t have the necessary range. But you must stand quietly until  “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave” has rung out and the music ends.

    If you are on the way to your seat at a sports event, or in any public place, and the first strains of the anthem are heard, stop where you are and stand at attention until the end. Don’t talk, chew gum, eat, or smoke during the singing of the anthem.

There was a public official there who was a member of the Appalachian Museum board, who apparently did not remove his hat, and the woman commented on this as well.  People do notice.

Oh, and by the way, here are the actual words of The Star-Spangled Banner — just in case that is a little fuzzy also.

O, say can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.
And the rocket’s red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night,
That our flag was still there.
Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

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