National Anthem Etiquette: What You Should Know

Photo credit: Coast Guard News
Photo credit: Coast Guard News

Do you know the proper etiquette to follow when the National Anthem is performed or played? Whether you are attending a sports game, concert, funeral, etc., you will probably find yourself in this position at some point or another.

The National Anthem is a patriotic song that symbolizes America’s core value: freedom. Therefore, it’s important for men and women to know the rules established under US Code 301 for showing respect in conduct when it is performed.

Proper Anthem Protocol Order for Civilians
(military personnel see this)

Stand

Before the National Anthem begins, crowds will usually be asked to stand. Why stand? It is a sign of appreciation for our nation and its core values. Is standing for the National Anthem a law? No, it is not mandatory. But Americans owe a great debt to those who have paid the ultimate price to win and protect our freedom, which is why it’s important to follow proper etiquette and stand for the Anthem. The entire Anthem should only last for a couple of minutes, so standing isn’t going to leave you “winded.”

Face the Flag

Many people assume that they should face the person who is singing the National Anthem, but this isn’t necessarily true. If there’s an American Flag being displayed — and there usually is — you should face it instead. If there is not a flag on display, you should face the person whom is singing the National Anthem, giving them your full attention.

Remove Your Hat

If you are wearing a hat, you should remove it for the duration of the National Anthem (unless it’s being worn for religious purposes). This tradition goes back more than a century, a time when wearing a hat indoors was considered rude.

Place Right Hand Over Your Heart

Next, place your right hand over your heart. Assuming you are wearing a hat, remove it with your right hand and place it over your heart.

What About Military Service Men and Women?

Military service men and women should perform the military salute at the beginning of the National Anthem, holding this posture until the end.

That concludes the steps you need to do to show respect when the national anthem is played.

Did You Know?

Here’s a fun fact that not many people know: the Star Spangled Banner had been around for 75 years before it became the National Anthem. It wasn’t until 1889 when Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy signed an order to make the Star Spangled Banner the official tune for raising the American flag. Fast forward to 1916 and President Woodrow Wilson declared the Star Spangled Banner to be played at military events and other occasions as well.

National Anthem Lyrics

If you need a crash course on the O Say Can You See lyrics (the Star-Spangled Banner), here you go:

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 rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

The Star-Spangled Banner coupon Flag of the United States of America

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