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What Has Happened to National Anthem Etiquette in America?

Updated on August 24, 2017

Has Respect for the U.S. National Anthem Been Lost?

I am a patriotic person, but after observing some recent events I've been troubled by a lack of National Anthem etiquette and wondering if the citizens of the United States have lost respect for its true meaning.

I don't want this lens to be offensive to anyone in any way, but I do want to spark some thought in the minds of my American brethren about what our flag and National Anthem means to you. By the same token, if you are a citizen of another country, you can ask yourself these same questions about your country's flag and anthem.

I took a trip to New York City last week, and was feeling an amazing sense of sorrow and pride after visiting the Patriot's Peace Memorial which now stands on the site of the fallen Twin Towers. I was in New York for the NCAA Big East Basketball Championship, and the actions I observed during the singing of the United States National Anthem left me disturbed.

(Image Credit to lecates - Licensed via Creative Commons with Attribution)

Observations During the National Anthem

I mentioned before that I am a very patriotic person. I feel blessed to have the freedom and opportunities that the United States of America provides. I realize that there are many other great countries to live in around the world, but also many others that do not afford their citizens the same levels of freedom. I also realize that America is not always in the right, but with that said I feel that we should show respect for the flag, the National Anthem, and the beliefs and freedoms that our Country was founded on.

When the U.S. National Anthem was played at the 2013 NCAA Big East Basketball Tournament, I stood there with my hat in my left hand and my right hand over my heart. I was focused on the American Flag, while the singer belted out her rendition of the anthem.

Now, I am used to people cheering at various points throughout the anthem, when the singer really hits a high note, or knocks it out of the park with their performance. But what I am not used to are people yelling completely random phrases during the anthem, just so they can be heard while the crowd is quiet. I experienced this as the semi-finals game on Friday night, and the final game on Saturday night, and I just felt that it was disrespectful.

I located the video below of the National Anthem from the Final game between Syracuse and the University of Louisville. The audio did not pick up all the the yelling that I heard being there in person, so it really doesn't do justice in showing type of actions I am describing. It did pick up the audio from the yelling that occurred closer to the camera though.

In the video, you can hear people yelling "Let's go Orange" and "Go 'Cuse". From where I was sitting, I could also hear people yelling "U of L sucks" and "Beat the Cards".

I have to say that I was very shocked at this point. I heard a lot of this going on during the Friday night game's National Anthem, but not to the same degree. My attention was obviously drawn away from the Flag and the Anthem, and toward this activity occurring in the crowd. At this point, I noticed a number of people that did not remove their hats, and even more people who did not have their hand over their heart.

So this experience has prompted the question "Has respect for the United States of America's National Anthem been lost?". (Please answer the poll below.)

(Image Credit to stephen.moore - Licensed via Creative Commons with Attribution)

Debate Poll - Has respect been lost for the U.S. National Anthem?

From my personal experiences, I believe that respect for the flag has been lost, and that proper etiquette is not observed during the American National Anthem. I see people not acting appropriately, not removing their caps, not placing their hand over their hearts, not facing the flag, and carrying on conversations during the performance of the Anthem.

What are your thoughts and experiences? Weigh in with your vote and comments below.

Have American citizens lost respect for the U.S. National Anthem?

Do you display the American Flag at Your Home?

The one thing I really love about the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays, is that you see a lot of people flying the American Flag. You see this at peoples homes and businesses, and it definitely spurs patriotic feelings. I wish that more people flew the Flag year round.

Listed below are several affordable flag sets that contain the flag, pole, and mounting bracket. There are also some very inexpensive flags that can be mounted or hung from your existing flagpole. Do you fly 'Old Glory' at your home?

Annin Flagmakers Model 238 American Flag and Flagpole Set Estate kit-6 ft. 2 Section White Spinning Pole That Rotates 360 Degrees, 3 by 5 Foot, Nylon SolarGuard Nyl-Glo
Annin Flagmakers Model 238 American Flag and Flagpole Set Estate kit-6 ft. 2 Section White Spinning Pole That Rotates 360 Degrees, 3 by 5 Foot, Nylon SolarGuard Nyl-Glo

This is a complete American flag set. It contains a deluxe American nylon flag that has embroidered stars and sewn stripes. A six foot aluminum pole and steel mounting bracket allows you to display this flag with pride. The pole is topped with a gold eagle. The multi-position mounting bracket allows you flexibility in how you want to mount this flag.

Valley Forge Flag US1-1 Residential Kit w/ 3' x 5' US Flag, Pole, red, White & Blue, Steel Bracket
Valley Forge Flag US1-1 Residential Kit w/ 3' x 5' US Flag, Pole, red, White & Blue, Steel Bracket

This is a very affordable flag set. It contains a 3x5 foot flag that is polyester/cotton blend. You get everything you need in this kit to mount and fly the flag. It has a six foot aluminum pole and mounting bracket. The pole is tipped with a plastic gold American eagle.

Rubie's Costume Co 3'X 5'American Flag-Pk60 Costume
Rubie's Costume Co 3'X 5'American Flag-Pk60 Costume

If you already have a flag pole and mounting bracket, but just need a replacement flag, then this is the right choice for you. This 3x5 foot flag is perfect for hanging or flying and is very well made.

US Flag 3X5 ft (Embroidered stars - sewn stripes)
US Flag 3X5 ft (Embroidered stars - sewn stripes)

If you are just looking for an inexpensive American flag (without a flag pole or bracket), then check out this flag from Flags Unlimited. For under $10.00, you can't go wrong with this one.


The National Anthem at the 2013 NCAA Big East Basketball Tournament

Here is a video that was taken at the 2013 NCAA Big East Men's Basketball championship game. This video is from the same event that I attended where I started questioning the lack of etiquette that some citizens show towards the US Flag and the National Anthem.

As I stated earlier, the audio captured on this video doesn't quite do justice to the behavior I observed as the American National Anthem was being sung. Some of the yelling and comments (unrelated to the Anthem or the performance) are audible, but many were too faint.

So what do you think? Please leave a comment below in the guestbook. Thanks

National Anthem Etiquette Poll #1

It is proper etiquette to remove your hat or cap when the flag is displayed at the start of the Anthem, or when the Anthem starts.

Do you remove your hat (or would you if you were wearing one) during the National Anthem?

See results

National Anthem Etiquette Poll #2

It is proper etiquette to stand (facing the flag or toward the music if the flag is not displayed) with your right hand placed over your heart.

Do you stand, face the Flag, and place your right hand over your heart during the National Anthem?

See results

National Anthem Etiquette Poll #3

It is proper etiquette for people in uniform to offer the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note. Members of the armed forces and veterans (who are present but not in uniform) to give the military salute in the same manner that those in uniform would.

If you are member of the armed forces or veteran not in uniform, do you give the military salute during the National Anthem?

See results

I know that any time a conversation opens about politics or patriotism, that it opens the door for some charged feelings and potentially intense debate. I welcome these comments.

How About Some Patriotic Comments?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Respect for a lot of the traditions we hold dear is waning. My mom used put out a flag for all kinds of holidays, not just the 4th of July. I don't even own a flag, but I am still very patriotic. In school, we were carefully taught how to be patriotic. The schools my children attend or attended, the educators don't or didn't seem to have the same devotion and love of country fervor to instill in them. At least, it sure looks/looked that way. I have a real problem with The Patriot Act being called The Patriot Act. Maybe it's just me.

    • GregoryMoore profile imageAUTHOR

      Gregory Moore 

      5 years ago from Louisville, KY

      @TanoCalvenoa: Amen brother! Well said!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      As an Eagle Scout and lover of freedom I'm accustomed to respecting our flag, national anthem, and other symbols of what our country is supposed to be. I think the main problem behind people who are disrespectful is incredible ignorance born of self-centeredness.

    • GregoryMoore profile imageAUTHOR

      Gregory Moore 

      5 years ago from Louisville, KY

      @Lisa-Marie-Mary: Yes, I gotta say that I was definitely shocked and it was really bugging me afterwards. I got upset enough about it to spend the time to write this lens.

    • Lisa-Marie-Mary profile image


      5 years ago

      Oh yes, but your experience in NYC, I meant to add - would've really upset me. That majorly disrespectful behavior is just crazy!

    • Lisa-Marie-Mary profile image


      5 years ago

      As stated above, I live in Alabama and the south is chockablock full of people who swear by their patriotism. They are very respectful in that they stand up, face the flag, be quiet, and most (if not all) remove their hats. The one thing they don't do is put their hand over their hearts. I really don't know why. I continue to do so, but sometimes, like I said, I feel like some military poseur. Those feelings prompted me to look up the proper etiquette, just to make sure I wasn't being a weirdo. And it turns out, I'm not - they are. LOL!


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