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Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
Our son and our neighbor's son are on the same football team, so we carpooled to a game together. When the National Anthem was played, I stood up, and then my neighbor nudged me because I did not have my hand over my heart. So, I did put my hand over my heart, but half of the people did not have their hand over their heart. I have grown up hearing the national anthem, and my family has never put their hand over their heart, but we of course stand up. We are patriotic, fly the flag on the 4th of July and Flag Day, etc. My father served in the military. What is the etiquette for the national anthem?
Hand over heart or not
Dear Hand over heart or not,
Traditionally, standing facing the flag with the right hand over the heart is proper conduct when the national anthem (Star Spangled Banner) is played. In addition, civilian hats should be removed and held near left shoulder with their right hand. However, it is common and acceptable to see folks respectfully stand with hands at the sides or clasped in front of them.
The United States House of Representatives Office of the Law Revision Counsel has compiled general and permanent laws called the United States Code, which covers 50 broad subject categories such as agriculture, bankruptcy, flag, labor, president, shipping, and war. Details about the National Anthem and flag code can be found at "The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions" (Luckey, 2008) or by going to the website and searching for http://www.gpoaccess.gov/uscode/index.html