It's tradition to put your hand over your heart and remove your hat during the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem, but why?
The hat removal and hand-over-heart rules aren't just tradition, but part of the United States Flag Code
on how people should conduct themselves during the pledge and The Star-Spangled Banner.
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The tradition originated in the era of knights who wore helmets that completely covered their faces, according to Today I Found Out
. It became customary for the knights to lift their visors to show their eyes to the monarch and others as a friendly response. Most individuals did this with their right hand to demonstrate they had no weapon on their sword-wielding arm, an act of submission.
Today, the flag code states: "When not in uniform men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute."
Veterans not in uniform may also salute, or choose to put the right hand over the heart.
Traditionally, women do not remove their hats, even when indoors. This was probably due to the fact that many pinned down their head ornaments, and an effort to remove it would result in destroying the woman’s hairstyle. Even today, on some occasions, it is not necessary for a woman to remove her hat.
According to the Emily Post Institute
, women only need to remove their hat if it's a sports cap. It is also customary for a hat to be specifically held in a person’s right hand.
The United States Flag Code also instructs non-U.S. citizens to stand at attention and remove nonuniform hats during the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem.
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