When to put your hand over your heart

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

  1. ruellesmith

    ruellesmith New Member

    We should always respect our National Anthem, it reflects how great America is! I'm just curious, is it illegal not to put you hand over your heart when the anthem is playing?
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    is it illegal not to put you hand over your heart when the anthem is playing?

    No. As you can see from the earlier posts in this thread, the rules for flag etiquette are just guidelines, not enforceable laws.
  3. Babsquestions

    Babsquestions New Member

    I'm part of the group that's terribly surprised to find out there's a code prescribing hand-over-the-heart during the National Anthem. I was taught to stand at respectful attention, hands at my side. I was born in 1957 in the mid-west.
  4. John Greiner

    John Greiner New Member

    Well first I believe the Flag and the National Anthem, represent your right and freedom not to solute them, and even act like a fool while everyone else shows their sign of respect. Although I would be slightly offended and annoyed, I would tolerate it while they exercised their freedom. I was taught in school too, of course to place my right hand over my heart as we said the pledge. I don't know where I learned it, or if I just followed by example, or decided to start doing it, but I have always as long as I can remember have, placed my hand over my heart for the national anthem. Being former military, it also felt like after my service, the appropriate transition from military protocol, to civilian respectful behavior. Instead of the traditional military solute, it felt like a civilian solute to our nation. The only problem I have with the "only do this during the pledge of allegiance" stance is that I guess you stop showing your allegiance to the US publicly after the 12th grade, unless you work in a school. To me its a way for all American's to publicly display their appreciation and respect for our nation. I would be grateful if everyone did what most have said, just stand at attention. It does not seem like that much more of an effort to place you hand over your heart, especially since there is legislature that our own K-12 educators never bothered to look up, evidently. Just kidding educators, there is no evidence to found this, other than some consistency in the postings here. Heck if Lady Gaga can do it, come on. One thing that is common in this thread, at least people are very passionate about their traditions related to the way they honor our country. Anyone who takes a moment to give thanks for the good things our country does well, is good in my book, no matter how they do it.

    Born Texas, early 1970's, that probably explains everything...
  5. Scott Bessinger

    Scott Bessinger New Member

    I noticed that you had said 1917 for one flag code and 1923 for another concerning placing your hand over your heart during the playing of the national anthem. It is interesting to me, though, that the star-spangled banner was not our National Anthem until March 3rd 1931 when it was signed into law. I was born in 1964, and I was taught to stand at attention for the national anthem but only to put my hand over my heart when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Why do you think it is that so many of us were taught this growing up? Currently, I am a retired veteran of the United States Navy and according to some of the new flag etiquette that I have seen, I could choose to render a salute even when in civilian clothes. This kind of goes against my grain as we were taught in the military the only salute when in full uniform, outdoors, and covered (wearing our hats). I am, however, left with a predicament. I am a disabled veteran having lost the use of my right arm and lost my right leg in the line of duty, so the point may be moot. I believe the point that I'm trying to make is that there seems to be considerable confusion concerning this subject and I am curious as to how all this confusion came about. I think if we can get everyone facing the flag silently and with little movement during the playing of the national anthem, then we have accomplished something. It would be nice if we all used the same flag etiquette during the playing of the national anthem, but I'm afraid there is so much confusion that if we can get everyone's undivided attention focused on the flag during the playing of the national anthem then that would be quite an accomplishment. God bless you and I am thankful that there are those out there like yourself that respect the flag that respect the flag and what it stands for enough that they want to educate people as to proper flag etiquette. Thank you for the information, and I will pass it along, answer this is very important to me as well.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
  6. Chuckard

    Chuckard New Member

    Is there a difference for indoors? The military do not render a salute indoors.
  7. David Crandon

    David Crandon New Member

    This is a very interesting discussion, which I became interested in after the discussion in the media of Gabby Douglass not putting her hand over her heart during the playing of the National Anthem at the Summer Olympics.

    So, it appears that absolutely you are supposed to put you hand over your heart during the playing of the National Anthem. It is clearly written in various iterations of the Flag Code.

    However, it also appears that a very large number of Americans, especially those born in the 1950's and 1960's (including myself), were taught in school very specifically to not put your hand over your heart during the playing of the National Anthem, and only during the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Given that the Flag Code is crystal clear on this, why were so many of us taught something that specifically contradicts this (including myself and President Obama).

    Comments please?
  8. Lovesgolf

    Lovesgolf New Member

    I completely agree with putting your hand over your heart and was surprised to read that some were taught to keep their hands at their sides. I also grew up in the 50's and 60's and was definitely taught to put my hand over my heart and to sing. Don't know why different teachings? Maybe it has to do with the part of the country we grow up in. I noticed one person who did not put their hand over their heart was from the Midwest. I'm from the east. Not saying one part of country is better or anything; just different. President Obama is pretty smart and I guess it's just the way we are taught.
  9. George Rollins

    George Rollins New Member

    I am retired US Air Force, I was told that as a retired person in civilian clothes I was still allowed to salute as I would in uniform. Is this correct?
  10. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hello, George Rollins!

    Welcome to the USA-FLAG-SITE Forum!

    Yes, as a military veteran in civilian clothes, you may render the military salute during the National Anthem. It is permitted under 36 U.S. Code § 301 - National Anthem.


    36 U.S. Code § 301 - National Anthem

    (a)Designation.— The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
    (b) Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—

    (1) when the flag is displayed—
    (A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
    (B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
    (C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; 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.

    Thank You for your Service, and Thank You for bringing your Flag-related question to our Flag Forum!

    Robin Hickman
    "Your Friendly Neighborhood Flag Man"
    Eugene, Oregon, USA.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  11. Russell S. Kussman

    Russell S. Kussman New Member

    Okay, there is no question that the CURRENT federal statutes (4 USC section 9 and 36 USC section 301) call for placing one's right hand over their hearts during the playing of the national anthem. But many of us (myself included) were DEFINITELY taught to do that ONLY for the Pledge of Allegience, but NOT the national anthem. How and why did the change occur (or were we all simply misled)? Mr. Ansoff's explanation about the 1917, 1923 1942 statutes is ambiguous, at best. It implies that Congress adopted the "hand over heart" language in 1942, and was "clarified" in "the current version of the code" which "dates from 1976." If true, those of us who grew up in the 50's and 60's would have been taught to put our hands over our hearts during the Anthem -- which, it appears, most of us were not.

    Interestingly, according to Westlaw, 4 USC section 9 and 36 USC section 301 were enacted in 1998 and amended in 2008. So how does that square with the law requiring hand-over-heart since 1942 and "clarified" in 1976. It would make more sense that the law was changed in 1998, requiring hand-over-heart for the Anthem also, and those of us "of a certain age" were properly taught to keep our hands at our sides prior to that time (though that's just speculation).

    Either way, I don't see a good explanation on these pages why so many of us were taught to put our hands over our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance only, but not for the Anthem; or why/when the practice changed. Actually, the "old way" makes more sense to me, since pledging allegiance is an oath of loyalty to America, which is a far more solemn act and promise than singing a song in honor of our country -- no matter how great the song, or the country, is.

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