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Hand Over Heart: When Should Americans Assume The Position?

Image: Hand Over Heart: When Should Americans Assume The Position?
In this August 28, 2012 file photo, people from the Texas delegation say the Pledge of Allegiance during the second day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 04 Nov 2014 05:51 PM

Every time the Star Spangled Banner is played or the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, Americans stand with their hands over their hearts.

The hand-over-heart gesture is not just a sign of respect, but it's part of the United States' “Flag Code,” which is the law of the land. The federal regulations regarding the flag and pledge were first approved by President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1942 and are currently under Title 4 of the United States Code. While the code is a “law,” there are no federal penalties for not following the law.

VOTE NOW: Should the Pledge of Allegiance Be Changed?

The hand-over-heart gesture is a sign of respect to be used when reciting the pledge of allegiance. Americans are to be “standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

Men are also to remove non-religious headwear and hold it at their left shoulders. Members of the military in uniform should not actually put their hand over their hearts and should instead salute. Those who are veterans and members of the military not in uniform may also salute instead of putting their hands over hearts.

The hand-over-heart gesture is also proper conduct when the Star-Spangled Banner is played, but not just when the flag is present. Members of the military in uniform are to salute at the first note of the national anthem and hold it until the end of the song. All civilians should use the same hand-over-heart gesture, taking off headwear when appropriate. If there is a flag, people should face the flag. If the flag is not present, people can face the music.

The hand-over-heart gesture as a sign of respect to the flag is also appropriate at a parade when the flag flown in review passes or at a ceremony when the flag is raised or lowered.

This gesture is a voluntary gesture and the rights of citizens to not-participate have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

URGENT: Do You Think 'One Nation Under God' Should be Removed from the Pledge of Allegiance? Vote Here Now!

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Every time the Star Spangled Banner is played or the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, Americans stand with their hands over their hearts.
hand over heart, americans
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2014-51-04
Tuesday, 04 Nov 2014 05:51 PM
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