Wash Post: Romney Claims on Anthem Wrong, Misguided

Monday, 06 Feb 2012 11:53 AM

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Mitt Romney’s recent claim that only Americans put their hand over their hearts during the playing of the national anthem and that the practice was instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt is not only wrong but misguided, The Washington Post said in a fact check of the statement.

Romney asserted earlier this month that “we are the only people on the Earth that put our hand over our heart during the playing of the national anthem. It was FDR who asked us to do that, in honor of the blood that was being shed by our sons and daughters in far-off places.”

In fact checking this, the Post first noted Romney’s role in running the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics, where he would have seen many athletes from many countries with their hands on their hearts during the playing of their national anthems.

“We randomly searched YouTube for the playing of the national anthem for various countries and quickly found several examples, such as Japan and Brazil, that disprove Romney’s claim of American exceptionalism,” the Post wrote.

As to the hand-over-the-heart, the history of that gesture is mixed up with the Nazi salute and the Pledge of Allegiance that initially used the stiff-armed gesture.

Francis Bellamy, who wrote the pledge in 1892, had included instructions for the salute while reciting the words: Children were taught to salute the flag with their arms straight out, with palm up.

The problem was |the salute associated with the pledge had begun to look very much like the Nazi salute — and the United States was then at war with Germany.

Congress went with the hand-over-heart gesture for the pledge in 1942. The Post said that Roosevelt had little to do with the changes and it was not done “in honor of the blood that was being shed by our sons and daughters in far off places,” as Romney put it.

“Romney managed to get just about everything wrong in this story, in what appears to be a misguided attempt to both promote American exceptionalism and ding President Obama,” the Post concluded in awarding the comment four Pinocchios, their highest rating for misstatements, which it characterizes as “whoppers.”

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