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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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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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Star-Spangled Banner is the star of the show

DKH_05After a decade’s conservation, the flag that inspired the National Anthem returns to its place of honor on the National Mall.

By Robert M. Poole for Smithsonian magazine, November 2008

starspangledbanner_nov08_520 Long before it flew to the moon, waved over the White House or was folded into tight triangles at Arlington National Cemetery; before it sparked fiery Congressional debates, reached the North Pole or the summit of Mount Everest; before it became a lapel fixture, testified to the Marines’ possession of Iwo Jima, or fluttered over front porches, firetrucks and construction cranes; before it inspired a national anthem or recruiting posters for two world wars, the American ensign was just a flag.

 

For the rest of Robert M. Poole’s splendid story in Smithsonian magazine, go here.

On Wednesday, President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush dedicated the renovated National Museum of American History. Today is the grand opening to the public, with retired Gen. Colin Powell scheduled to read President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

The original Star-Spangled Banner—the one that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired America’s National Anthem—had long been displayed in the museum, but for the past ten years it has been in the hands of conservationists, who have carefully preserved the fragile flag.

starspangledbanner_nov08_7Now it is beautifully displayed again in a specially designed gallery and enclosure that will protect this national treasure. starspangledbanner_nov08_8

All photography from the Smithsonian web site.

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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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Flags Bring Smiles

smiley faceThere are several things about the flag business I enjoy, but one stands above the rest. When I introduce myself to people and tell them what I do, they smile. Not that big toothy grin you sometimes see, but a gentle smile where the ends of the lips turn up.

In sales for many years, I haven’t always gotten such a reaction. Many time people weren’t as happy to see me, but out of necessity utilized my products.

Flags are different. Most people have a positive response with positive images coming to mind.

We are introduced to the U.S. flag in grade school (sometimes before) and hearing the stories about it, pride builds inside for this symbol we hold dear.

Take this example from the first stanza of our Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key;

Oh, 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?

Pay close attention to the fifth and sixth lines—that our flag survived this major attack and was still flying was a tremendous victory. What a great story to remember when thinking about the flag. Later in the poem, Key mentions first light and the confusion surrounding what was happening. It’s a real history lesson all its own. In fact, I included the entire text for the Star Spangled Banner with another article. Read it though and tell me it doesn’t make you smile.

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Hoist the American Flag Briskly

Raising the American flag at sunrise each morning is a celebration of what our flag stands for. Francis Scott Key said so well,

Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘T is the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

The last half of the second stanza speaks of the rising sun and the beautiful display of the stars and stripes yet waving and the great significance of that moment. Here in the U.S. Flag Code the provision in Section 6(b)

(b) The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

In honor of Washington’s Birthday, here is the entire poem written that historic day in 1814.

Francis Scott Key by Percy MoranO 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 thro’ the mist 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 on the stream
’Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! 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 footstep’s 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.

Oh! 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 Pow’r 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.

For more background and a great history lesson, more information can be found here.

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Protocol for the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance

Recent high-profile sporting events left me wondering about the protocol for the National Anthem, like the one for the Pledge of Allegiance in the U.S. Flag Code.

The protocol for the Pledge of Allegiance is laid out in the Flag code Section 4

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”, 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. (Italics are mine.)

Orioles Players

The Search Begins

Easy enough, but what about protocol for the National Anthem? I began at Google and started searching and discovered a lot of information that couldn’t be verified. I kept digging.

I located one site that “claimed” to quote the U.S. Flag Code as found on the American Legion website. It contained a section that wasn’t in my copy of the U.S. Flag Code, so I went to the American Legion website to see which version of the Flag Code they were using. It turned out they are using the same one I am, and there is no reference to the National Anthem contained in the Flag Code.

I did find a section on the Legion site titled National Anthem and it did reference the U.S. Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 171 for the proper protocol. Then to confirm, I went to the U.S. Government site containing the United States Codes and dug into Title 36.

This brought up the next hurdle. There was no Chapter 10. WHAT?

More digging …

Eureka

EUREKA! The research paid off in a big way and here is what I located.

  • 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, AND MARCH
          • Section 301–National Anthem

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.

There it is. The elusive National Anthem protocol. Now when you attend that next concert, ball game, or school event, you will know the proper conduct when they begin playing the Star Spangled Banner.

Rest of Chapter 3

Here is the rest of the information in this Chapter of the United States Code.

Sec. 302. National motto

“In God we trust” is the national motto.

Sec. 303. National floral emblem

The flower commonly known as the rose is the national floral emblem.

Sec. 304. National march

The composition by John Philip Sousa entitled “The Stars and Stripes Forever” is the national march.

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