The proper way to salute your country

Published 8:28 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I was tooling around some of my favorite Internet message boards the other day, and I read someone discussing the downside of a particular Presidential candidate. Yes, it had to do with “lapel pin-gate,” but apparently, the other “disturbing issue” dealt with this candidate not placing his hand over his heart during the National Anthem.

“That is just a gigantic smack in the face of all Americans and our country,” the person wrote.

I was thinking about that yesterday, and having gone to several hundreds of sports events in my time, I have seen thousands of people (maybe even this person) who are also apparently smacking the face of America as well.

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I must admit that, when I was younger (which doesn’t help to narrow down the specific timeline very well), I was not aware of the proper procedure for honoring the National Anthem. The “parade rest” position — placing your hands behind your back with the legs slightly apart — seemed appropriate and kind of military, but the “fig leaf position” — clasping your hands in front — also seemed honorable.

Finally, I looked it up so I could know if there was an official way of doing things. Thousands of people doing different things can’t be right.

I found that there is a proper, set way of standing during the National Anthem. I am here to tell you about it not so I can go to the games and point out those who would smack the face of America, but to let you know what I have found out, so that you, too, can run for President without having “National Anthem-gate” hanging over your head.

First, you are supposed to rise for the playing of the National Anthem.

If there is a color guard on the field of play (a football field, basketball court, baseball field, whatever), you are supposed to rise as the color guard enters the field and remain standing until it leaves the field.

As the Anthem begins, stand at attention — with your legs together with your hands at your sides — and place your right hand over your heart.

If you are wearing a hat (but not as part of a uniform), take it off with your right hand, holding it over your heart. If you are in uniform (from military to Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, but not a sports uniform), you are to properly salute (however your branch of service dictates).

Sing it if you want to. As far as I know, this candidate’s critics haven’t made an issue of him not singing the Anthem.

That’s all there is to it.

Like I said, I’m not going around seeing who is doing this properly. I just want to help you understand what the proper action is, like I wanted to know what the proper action is when I first looked it up.

I’m not sure if you will find this helpful or not. I know that many of you don’t want to smack the face of America — maybe you weren’t aware you were.

All I know is: If you lose votes in the Presidential election because you weren’t honoring the National Anthem the way these people thought you should, don’t blame me.