When to put your hand over your heart

Discussion in 'Our National Anthem' started by tombrink, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. tombrink

    tombrink Guest

    Besides the Pledge, What songs are you suppose to put your hand over your heart?
     
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    The US Code (Titles 4 and 36) specifies four circumstances for rendering the hand-over-heart salute:

    1. When the US flag is raised or lowered
    2. When the US flag is carried past in a review or parade
    3. When reciting the pledge of allegiance
    4. When the national anthem is played

    The saluter should face the flag in all cases. If the national anthem is played when the flag is not displayed, the saluter should face the source of the music.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  3. MaryM

    MaryM New Member

    Hi, I'm new to this site. The National Athem etiquette is lost on Americans today. Since it was a long time since my school days I am here checking out this question. Much has been said about our candidates stance when the anthem is played. Here I find your answers are still the same as when I was a kid growing up. Just this past Friday in an open field for a local cancer survivors celebration I found people when the singing started, they continued walking around, talking to each other, some were just standing still, while others were standing still with their hand over their heart. Others will still looking at vendor items.

    When my son was in high school (in the 80's) I happened to be there in school. The athem was played over the loud speaker, and I was the only one who stopped and stood at attention. The school personnel did not stop what they were doing, children came in for whatever reason, walked about and left. I was the only one who was at attention. We need to have our schools teach the children these things. As witnessed in the field on Friday, most everyone seemed not to care about it. It only takes a few minutes to respect the anthem while it is being played.
     
  4. chardcole

    chardcole New Member

    There is a lot of flack right now because Barak Obama did not put his hand over his heart during the playing of our national anthem. I was taught many years ago that you quietly stand at attention with your hands down during the playing of the music or that you sing along if asked to do so. The same is true when the flag passes by as in a parade. Many people my age do not put their hands over their hearts except when saying the Pledge of Allegience to the Flag because that's the way we were taught. I would imagine Obama follows that same stance. I have no idea if or when the rules were changed and would like to know.
     
  5. american_flag_uk

    american_flag_uk Moderator

    im not going to comment on Obama - cos u wont like it.

    but the flag code has'nt changed since the 1940s.... and that always said the put your hand over your heart when the anthem is played and face the flag... if no flag present face the source of the music.
     
  6. ginlew

    ginlew New Member

    Is there any source that states absolutely what the proper etiquette is for placing the hand over the heart during the playing or singing of the anthem?
     
  7. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hi. The etiquette is spelled out in Title 36 Subtitle 1, Para. 301 of the US Code:

    During a rendition of the national anthem—
    (1) when the flag is displayed— (A) all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;
    (B) men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
    (C) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and
    (2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

    There's a different section of the US code (Title 4 Chapter 1, Section 9) that gives the proper way to salute when the flag is raised, lowered, or passes in a parade. That title used to have basically the same language as the above. Title 4 was amended by Congress earlier this year to allow military personnel and veterans to give the military salute even if they were not in uniform. However, Congress did not make the corresponding change to Title 36. Technically, a military person or veteran wearing civilian clothes can give the military salute when the flag passes, but not when the national anthem is played!

    I hope this answers your questions. Welcome to the forum!

    Peter Ansoff
     
  8. ginlew

    ginlew New Member

    Thank you so much. My very liberal 22-yr-old college senior great-niece insisted, as we watched Michael Phelps receiving one of his medals, with his hand over his heart,that it was no longer required that you place your hand over your hearts. She said it in a very superior tone, which challenged me to challenge her. I now know that despite what she thinks...she's wrong! Too bad our young people are either not being taught about our traditions---or are being brainwashed in an anti-patriotic direction.
     
  9. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Glad to help! Of course, just because the flag code says it doesn't mean that it's "required." The flag code is just a set of guidelines that describes the applicable customs and traditions.

    Best,

    Peter Ansoff
     
  10. zimtekcom

    zimtekcom New Member

    I've been watching National Conventions (both), and witnessed most everyone placing their hand over their heart during our national anthem. I thought "why are they doing that?". So I started to do some research on what is proper and customary, which eventually brought me here to this site.

    In the 1960s and 70s when I attended public school, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance everyday, with hand over heart. I remember very specifically not placing hand over heart, but standing silently with respect during the National Anthem. Were we wrong, or do I not remember properly?

    In my research I managed to find the legislation that regulates these things. The effective date appears to be on January 2nd 2006.

    US CODE: Title 36,301. National anthem

    Can anyone tell me how long this legislation has read this way?

    --Thanks--
     
  11. ontimelissa

    ontimelissa New Member

    Could anyone tell me what the proper etiquette is for the person who is singing the National Anthem? My daughter will be singing it before a ballgame and she was asking me this. I just wasn't quite sure. Thanks!
     
  12. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Could anyone tell me what the proper etiquette is for the person who is singing the National Anthem? My daughter will be singing it before a ballgame and she was asking me this.

    Hi, welcome to the forum. The US Code (which is quoted in my 8/17/08 posting in this thread, see above), does not say anything specific about the singer. The rule of thumb is that your daughter should do whatever seems appropriate. If she can put her hand over her heart without compromising her performance, that's fine, but this should not override practical considerations. For example, if she has to hold a microphone and is more comfortable holding it in her right hand, she should do that.

    Best,

    Peter Ansoff
     
  13. sand

    sand New Member

    THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I WAS TAUGHT TO HONOR OUR FLAG! HAND OVER THE HEART ONLY FOR THE ALLEGIENCE TO THE FLAG! STANDING AT ATTENTION FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM! I THINK FOLKS JUST LIKE TO PICK. I ALWAYS NOTICED PEOPLE MAKING THE MISTAKE OF HANDS OVER HEART FOR THE ANTHEM. I DO NOT ADHERE TO THIS. UNLESS THE RULES HAVE CHANGED, I WILL CONTINUE DOING IT THE WAY I WAS TAUGHT IN SCHOOL!
     
  14. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hi, Sand, welcome to the forum!

    HAND OVER THE HEART ONLY FOR THE ALLEGIENCE TO THE FLAG! STANDING AT ATTENTION FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM!

    Well, that's not what Title 36 Sec. 1 Para 301 of the US Code says:

    During a rendition of the national anthem—
    (1) when the flag is displayed—
    (A) all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;
    (B) men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
    (C) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and
    (2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

    Conduct during the pledge of allegiance is covered in Title 4, Ch. 1 Para 4, and says basically the same thing:

    The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag . . . should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.

    These are only guidelines, of course, but that's what the rules say.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  15. wizard2162

    wizard2162 New Member

    Mr. Ansoff
    Thank you for this forum. Now when my children ask a question about the customs of our nation I know where to go to get the "correct" answers.
     
  16. ShadowsOfKnight

    ShadowsOfKnight New Member

    Agree completely. I just turned 61 years old. When I was in school, no one, I repeat no one I knew put their hand over their heart during the national anthem. In fact, had you done so, people would have likely corrected you as to your ignorance of proper protocol, that the hand over heart was meant for the pledge, not the anthem. I have no idea when people started to do it, but it was not happening in the late 50's, early 60's.
     
  17. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hello, Shadows . . . welcome to the forum!

    I have no idea when people started to do it, but it was not happening in the late 50's, early 60's.

    The use of the civilian salute during the playing of the national anthem is actually older than the adoption of the anthem itself. The 1917 War Department circular on "Proper Method of Displaying, Hanging, and Saluting the American Flag" stated:

    "Whenever the national air is played, all officers and enlisted men not in formation are required to stand at attention, facing toward the music . . . If in civilian dress and covered, they are required to stand and uncover at the first note of the air, holding the headdress opposite the left shoulder until the last note is played, excepting in inclement weather, when the headdress may be held slightly raised"

    Note that there's no explicit mention of putting the hand over the heart -- it just says to hold the cover opposite the left shoulder.

    The original 1923 version of the flag code said:

    "During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the Flag, or when the Flag is passing in parade or review . . Men's headdress should be removed with the right hand and held at the left shoulder . . . Women . . . should salute by placing the right hand over the heart. If the national anthem is played an no flag is present all stand at attention when uncovered and salute at the first note of the anthem, retaining the position until the last note of the air is played. If in civilian dress and covered men should uncover and stand at attention facing the music."

    Unlike the 1917 Circular, when was directed at servicemen, the flag code prescribed a salute for women, and what's where the "hand over heart" idea originally came from. The 1923 code said that men should "uncover" when the anthem was played with no flag present. It did not explicitly specify the hat-at-the-left-shoulder pose, but it would seem reasonable that that was intended as the proper way to "uncover" during the playing of the anthem, whether or not the flag was present.

    The version of the flag code that was adopted by Congress in 1942 essentially copied the 1923 language, with some minor rewording. One notable change was that it extended the "hand over heart" idea to the men's salute:

    " . . . men should remove the headdress with the right hand holding it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart . . . Women should salute by placing the right hand over the heart."

    The current version of the code, which I quoted in my earlier post in this thread, dates from 1976. It clarified that

    " . . when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed"

    The bottom line is that uncovering, and holding the hat at the left shoulder, has arguably been the proper civilian salute to the national anthem since 1917, and definitely since the code was clarified in 1976. For what it's worth, that's the way we did it when I was in school, and I'll turn 60 in a couple of months!

    Peter Ansoff
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  18. Faith

    Faith New Member

    As a child I clearly remember being taught that when singing the National Anthem, you are to stand at attention with your hands firmly at your sides. I was further told (as were all my classmates at the start of every school year) that The National Anthem is a song; it is NOT The Pledge of Allegiance. Your right hand is placed firmly over your heart during The Pledge to remind you that you are promising to upheld loyalty to your country. Although it is an honorable and powerful song, The National Anthem does not command that level of respect. Although I dearly love the The National Anthem, I will not put my hand over my heart when singing it. I am not promising loyalty to a song. I am promising loyalty to my country and express that loyalty through reciting The Pledge. My respect, loyalty, and my stance during The Pledge include placing my right hand over my heart because I place the importance of The Pledge of Allegiance far above the importance of The National Anthem.
     
  19. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hi, Faith -- welcome to the forum!

    Your reasoning makes sense, but it's not what US law says. 36 USC 301, "National Anthem", para (b) "Conduct During Playing", says that one should salute when the national anthem is played, whether or not the flag is present. As I outlined in my last post, this has been the case since 1917, before the national anthem was officially adopted. (The 1917 regulation called it the "national air.") Of course, this particular law is just advisory, and you're free to do whatever you think is appropriate.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  20. Alan

    Alan New Member

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    Thanks Peter and others for this information. I felt a little out of place and uninformed last week at Disneyland.

    I really enjoy flag ceremony and was there just in time for their evening retreat. Once the Colour Guard was seen myself and a few others stood to attention. Then as commands were given and the guards came forward the National Anthem began to play in the background. Instantly the initial gentlemen and women that stood when we saw the Colour Guard gave full military salute and others began to stand and place their hands over their heart. I was lost at their form of salute to the evening lowering that had not yet officially begun as the guard had not even walked to the pole. I totally understood those veterans and thought why is everyone placing their hand over their heart the flag is not even lowering, yet.

    I gave way doing the same as everyone else assuming I was being tested on some hidden camera show to see if I would give in to the Asch Paradigm. Once the lowering was complete I remained standing as the Colour Guard proceeded to retreat. It was a great Ceremony.

    However, once the ceremony was over and no show producer came out to interview me I figured everyone was just being respectful. Now I am informed and thank you.
     

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