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Baseball and the “Star-Spangled Banner”

baseball-team-1529403_640Baseball and the Star-Spangled Banner go way back. Back to the nineteenth century, and long before the Star-Spangled Banner became America’s National Anthem. I don’t think it is a stretch of history to suggest that the popularity of playing the Star-Spangled Banner at baseball games contributed significantly to it becoming the National Anthem.

Defense of Fort McHenry

Within days of writing the Defence of Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key’s words were printed on a broadside and distributed in Baltimore. Shortly thereafter, the words and music were published together, because Key wrote the words to fit the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” which was a popular song at the time. It wasn’t the first time that Key had composed words for the same tune.

The Star-Spangled Banner rapidly grew in popularity and was frequently played at large gatherings throughout the country, but especially before baseball games. In 1889, the Secretary of the Navy ordered that the Star-Spangled Banner be played when the flag was raised, and by 1916, President Woodrow Wilson used an executive order making it the National Anthem. Congress eventually wrote the legislation and President Herbert Hoover signed it into law March 3, 1931.

Those events, and the long-standing tradition of playing the National Anthem at baseball games and other sporting events brings us to this question, which I received yesterday at The Daily Flag News.

We play youth baseball in a complex with 4 baseball fields, a couple football fields and at least one soccer field. Are players and others present required to respond to each fields’ playing of the National Anthem with different starting times?

Unforeseen circumstances

Those who wrote the National Anthem Code could not have foreseen a circumstance such as this. The Code does not tell us when, or where, or how to perform the National Anthem, only how to behave during the Anthem. Figuring out the logical, appropriate etiquette for various situations turns into a flow chart of sorts, and after ten years reading and writing about the protocol, I am confident in my response.

This answer will somewhat contradict other posts I have written in the past, but that’s because it is a situation that cannot be summed up in a neat paragraph. Here is what I recommend:

Thus if you have observed the protocol and etiquette for your immediate circumstance (your game): you have stood at attention, saluted as appropriate to who you are, listened to and/or sung the National Anthem—then you have met the honor, and obligation attendant to your game.  It is not necessary for you to stop your game when a new game and Anthem begins on another field within your hearing.

In baseball (in general) any player, coach or manager can ask for a time out, but only the umpire can grant time out. By the time the umpire could call time out, the Anthem—which runs for about 70 seconds—would be over, and for players to just stop playing without a time out could be dangerous and chaotic. It’s the sort of problem that must give coaches and umpires a headache and heartburn, too.

Have a meeting

Because this situation must be a recurring problem, I suggest that the various organizations, plus umpires and referees that meet and play on these game fields have a meeting to establish a standard protocol and etiquette for observing the National Anthem on these fields. It would would simplify things so much, and insure that each game was conducted properly, and that honors to the National Anthem were properly given.

What they call a teachable moment

This is an amazing opportunity to teach young people about the history of the Star-Spangled Banner, why we honor the flag by standing and saluting, and how it ties into the history of baseball. Without baseball, it might have taken a lot longer for the Star-Spangled Banner to become our National Anthem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Salute during the National Anthem

Yes. We are supposed to salute the flag during the National Anthem, with either a “heart salute” (right hand over the heart) or a military salute if you are active duty. Veterans are also permitted to present a military salute if so desired.

The United States Code (our giant collection of American law—laid out in great detail) contains the National Anthem Code and the Flag Code, but the two documents are not found in the same section of the U.S. Code. Portions of the Flag Code are frequently cited (on Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day), while the National Anthem Code is rarely mentioned at all.

The National Anthem Code and the Flag Code are laws, but laws predicated on honor and goodwill. No one is compelled to stand at attention and salute, or Pledge allegiance to the flag. Americans have, to borrow a phrase, free will regarding our public display of allegiance and affection for the Anthem and the flag, and indeed, some religious denominations forbid these American rituals.

I will not quote all of the National Anthem Code, but here is the part most people are interested in. Please carefully note Section 2. The National Anthem itself  is the point of honor, so even if we cannot see the flag, we are to turn in the direction of the music, stand at attention and salute.

§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.

 

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Oh say can you sing—The Star-Spangled Banner

DKH_07 Last Friday I received an email alerting me to the National Anthem YouTube Singing Contest sponsored by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and USA Weekend Magazine!

My correspondent asked if I would share this information with The Daily Flag readers, and I am happy to do so. Entries for this contest will end on April 13.

The winner will be invited to perform the national anthem at the museum and at the Baltimore Orioles vs. Atlanta Braves game in Baltimore on Flag Day, June 14.

The links below will tell you how to enter the contest.

 

 

Long-time Daily Flag readers will know that I am a purist about our National Anthem, and if my advice is worth anything, then this is it: If you want to enter this contest, then sing the Star-Spangled Banner with all your heart, and all your soul. Tell the story like it was the first time anyone was hearing it, and take us back to that morning in Baltimore harbor.

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Why Dew you mistreat the National Anthem?

Is the National Anthem up for grabs in a commercial?

Last week a reader wrote to The Daily Flag to ask if it was permissible to use the National Anthem, or even part of the song, in a commercial advertisement. He was unhappy because The Pentagon Channel on television was using a portion of the anthem in what is described as a “tribute break.”

I don’t get the Pentagon Channel. I went to the Pentagon Channel’s website, but I couldn’t find video of their tribute breaks, so as to judge for myself how it looks and comes across to the viewer.

What does the U.S. Code have to say about the National Anthem?

National Anthem
Sec. 301. National anthem

1. Designation.–The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
2. Conduct During Playing.–During a rendition of the national anthem–
1. when the flag is displayed–
1. all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;
2. 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
3. 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.

(Pub. L. 105-225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1263.)

I don’t think you can extrapolate from silence (“it doesn’t say you can’t”) and justify using the National Anthem in a commercial, even if you are The Pentagon Channel, no matter how well-intended. The American lexicon of patriotic and martial music overflows with songs, marches, and hymns to choose from without using the National Anthem.

The day after I responded to the man’s question, I saw a Mountain Dew commercial on TV … the one with a tug-of-war theme and the very loud playing of the National Anthem—the Jimi Hendrix version. Mountain Dew commercials have always been edgy, but does this one cross the line? It’s clever, well-produced, and utterly egregious.

I wrote to Mountain Dew, and asked for them to remove this particular commercial from their television line-up because I thought it was an gross violation of the U.S. Code regarding the National Anthem. Does Pepsi care that this commercial makes me wince? I have not received a reply, but it has only been a few days.

So when is it permissible to use the National Anthem in a way other than how it is cited in the U.S. Code? Who gets to decide?

What if a Hollywood big shot wants to make a movie about baseball? At some point in the movie, there could be a scene with the players and the people in the bleachers saluting the flag, and standing up to sing the Star Spangled Banner. Is that ok, because if it’s done with respect? What if the scene shows some guy in the stands belching out the tune?

We decide.
Make your opinion known to businesses when they cross the boundary of respect and good taste. Write, email, telephone (there’s always an 800 number), and make your opinion known at the cash register.

UPDATE: 6-17-08 At 2:00 P.M., I received an email from a woman in Consumer Relations at Pepsi saying,

Thank you for taking the time to email us at Pepsi about our recent advertising. We appreciate your comments and, I assure you, we attach a great deal of importance to the views of our consumers.

For that reason, we sincerely regret that our recent commercial offended or upset you. That was certainly not our intention.

It’s extremely important to us at Pepsi that our advertising serves to enhance the positive image that’s helped place our brands among the world’s most popular consumer products. If we should miss the mark, we need to know about it, which is why I intend to pass along your comments to our ad team. I want them to be aware of your opinion as they discuss future advertising initiatives.

Thanks again for taking the time to email us and for sharing your constructive comments.

This is good start, and I appreciate their prompt response. DH

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Congressional reference tool for flag protocol

At the Flags Bay store website and The Daily Flag, there are links to the U.S. Flag Code, which I hope are useful to our readers.

US Flag Flying 1Today I discovered The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions while searching for some particular information about flag protocol. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I found this, which is a stepping stone to what I need.

It was prepared by the Congressional Research Service for members of Congress. It addresses the flag code and the National Anthem, and combines the relevant portions of Title 4 and Title 36 from the U.S. Code into one detailed and cross-referenced document. It will be a worthy addition to your reference materials.

From the title page:

The United States Flag:
Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions

Summary

This report presents, verbatim, the United States “Flag Code” as found in Title
4 of the United States Code and the section of Title 36 which designates the Star-
Spangled Banner as the national anthem and how to display the flag during its
rendition. The “Flag Code” includes instruction and rules on such topics as the
pledge of allegiance, display and use of the flag by civilians, time and occasions for
display, position and manner of display, and how to show respect for the flag. The
“Code” also grants to the President the authority to modify the rules governing the
flag.

The report also addresses several of the frequently asked questions concerning
the flag. The subject matter of these questions includes the pledge of allegiance and
the court decisions concerning it, the nature of the codifications of customs
concerning the flag in the “Flag Code,” display of the flag 24 hours a day, flying the
flag in bad weather, flying the flag at half-staff, ornaments on the flag, destruction of
worn flags, display of the U.S. flag with flags of other nations or of States,
commercial use of the flag, size and proportion of the flag, and restrictions upon
display of the flag by real estate associations.

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The National Anthem—Style Over Substance

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about the differences between the National Anthem Committee (NAC) adopted protocol for the National Anthem, and the law subsequently passed by Congress  a few months later. The differences are striking and if you missed it, stop and go read it.

Style over substance is the topic de jour—looking at the current trend of performers and their renditions. Here is part of The Code for the National Anthem of the United States of America adopted by the National Anthem committee in April of 1942.

… Since the message of the music is greatly heightened by the text, it is of paramount importance that emphasis be placed upon the singing of the National Anthem.

… It is inappropriate to make or use sophisticated "concert" versions of the National Anthem.

…The slighting of note values in the playing or singing of the National Anthem will seriously impair the beauty and effectiveness of both the music and lyric.

Continue reading The National Anthem—Style Over Substance

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Protocols and the National Anthem

TheNationalAnthem_NAC Last February I wrote an article about the protocol for the National Anthem. In it, I documented my research for the proper behavior during the playing and/or singing of the National Anthem. Since then, I have received many follow-up questions relating to the law contained in the U.S. Code, Title 36, Subtitle 1, Part A, Chapter 3, Section 301-National Anthem. Here it is.

Sec. 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) 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.

Continue reading Protocols and the National Anthem

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Friday’s Flag Flick—January 25, 2008

Imagine with me, if you will … a large college football stadium overflowing with people. The marching band strikes up the Star Spangled Banner as the large end-zone flag is raised and the only sounds are the voices of the fans singing the National Anthem with hands and hats over hearts. Now imagine a white butterfly …

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The National Anthem Gets No Respect

From time to time at The Daily Flag, we receive questions about the U.S. Flag Code, as well as the National Anthem. Many of the questions are about etiquette.

U.S. Code, Title 36

Our National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, is regulated by law in TITLE 36 of the U.S. Code, and just like the U.S. Flag Code, there is no government agency charged with policing the National Anthem protocol so adherence is based on the honor system.

The Star-Spangled Banner was first designated as the national anthem by congress in March, 1931, with the conduct section of the law added in June, 1942.

National Anthem

Here is the law in its entirety. It is short and sweet, with little room for misinterpretation.

TITLE 36--PATRIOTIC AND NATIONAL OBSERVANCES, CEREMONIES, AND 
                              ORGANIZATIONS
 
      Subtitle I--Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies
 
                   Part A--Observances and Ceremonies
 
  CHAPTER 3--NATIONAL ANTHEM, MOTTO, FLORAL EMBLEM 1 MARCH, AND TREE
 
Sec. 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) 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.

(Pub. L. 105-225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1263.)

Anthem Questions

I often wondered what to do when there was no U.S. flag present. It is addressed in the second part of the NA Code. Face the music and behave as if a flag is present. Now I know.

The question of singing the Star-Spangled Banner is not addressed in the law, but through the years, tradition calls for everyone to join in, depending on the circumstances. Some situations may be more appropriate than others sing the the anthem. When invited to participate, by all means, sing out!

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The Daily Flag News—September 18, 2007

The world is full of flag news today, but I have worked to bring it down to five stories for you. All but one involve kids, either in the story or in the picture. That and flags seem to be the only things that tie them together.

The American Legion continues to be at the forefront in teaching proper flag protocol and flag retirement. This ceremony took place September 13th, and results from the flag collection containers the Legion placed around LaCross, WI.

La Crosse Tribune – 6.0
alflagdisposal.jpgThe American flag can be burned without prompting an outcry — but it has to be done a certain way and with respect.

The American Legion can help with that.

The Roy L. Vingers Post 52 demonstrated the right way to burn a flag Thursday with an official ceremony at its property at 711 S. Sixth St.

“It’s to try to teach the public about the proper disposal of our American flag,” said Clyde Butterfield, American Legion flag disposal coordinator. “The main thing is respect for the American flag.”

In cooperation with the La Crosse Fire Department, flag deposit


This letter to the editor from a Boy Scout
says it all. It doesn’t say how old Gabrien is, but I love that he is concerned with the condition of the flags flying above businesses in Indianapolis.

We’re flying the flag, but not always appropriately | IndyStar.com
indystar.jpgI am writing to you because businesses are not flying the American flag properly. I go out with my parents on the Northeastside to go shopping and I have seen flags on which every corner is torn and every stripe is ripped.

I am in Boy Scouts; my dad and my mom were in the military. Flag Day is once a year, but I believe Flag Day should be every day for two reasons: first, to show American spirit; second, there is a war going on in Iraq right now where men and woman are protecting our country, dying every day. We should be respectful of our country.
My family and I don’t appreciate the way some people take care of their flags or their business’ flags. There’s a way you should treat a flag and this is not it.
Gabrien Gregory
Indianapolis


The Easy Rider paraphernalia
, owned by Peter Fonda, is going on the auction block. I feel somewhat uneasy about this, but it is interesting.

Iconic ‘Easy Rider’ items up for auction | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | News: Local News
easyriderflag.jpgAmong the personal and professional items up for auction Oct. 6:

• The American flag taken from the back of the jacket Mr. Fonda wore throughout the film, with an estimated value of $50,000.

• A Department of Defense pin that adorned the jacket, valued at $15,000.

• Mr. Fonda’s gold record for the film’s soundtrack album, valued at $2,000.

• His personal collection of six movie posters, including those for Easy Rider and Ulee’s Gold, Mr. Fonda’s most honored performance, with an estimated value of $500.

Wilson Elementary School still teaches their students about the American flag and its importance. This living U.S. flag will be remembered for years to come by these kids.

News: Oh, say, can you sing? | school, national, flag – The Monitor
wilsonelementary-school.jpgWilson Elementary School formed the largest American flag in McAllen for a brief time Friday morning.

“Put your stars up — hold on to them without moving them,” school librarian Lydia Soto instructed the students forming the flag’s star-spangled field of blue.

The fewer than 500-member student body wore red, white and blue to correspond with their places in the human flag. Looking up, they waved to photographers positioned overhead in a McAllen Fire Department cherry picker and sang the national anthem.

Friday was the 193rd anniversary of the penning of the National Anthem. MacArthur Elementary School decided to make a day of the celebration, ending with a picnic back at the school. Another memorable day for the student body.

Leavenworth Times – News
macarthur-elementary-school.jpgIt normally comes before the start of special events or perhaps during a patriotic concert.

But students at MacArthur Elementary School dedicated a whole day to the national anthem.

Students from the Fort Leavenworth school kicked off their celebration Friday at the Lewis & Clark Center, home of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

They later formed an American flag in a football field across the street from their elementary school.

Students participated in the National Anthem Project, a campaign sponsored by the National Association for Music Education.