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Obama and the pledge, just in case you didn’t know

I suppose almost everybody has seen the picture above of then Senator Barack Obama standing respectfully in front of an American Flag, while others on stage have their hands over their hearts. One birther, drdebdrdeb (try typing that three times real fast), made a remark at Birther Report 4 days ago:

… the handlers forgot to teach Barry how to put his hand over his heart when pledging allegiance.

Hand over heart—flag—Pledge of Allegiance. Right? The visual image of the flag and hands over the heart immediately reminds one of the Pledge. Images can be misleading. That photo was taken during the singing of the National Anthem, not the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance (there is an ABC News video with sound).  Obama himself said:

My grandfather taught me when I was two. During the Pledge of Allegiance, you put your hand over your heart. During the national anthem, you sing.

I must confess that this was my own view until quite recently, when I learned that the US Code does say that the hand should be over the heart with the participants facing the flag during the Anthem. (I’m not sure what Obama and the rest were looking at in the photo.)

I had occasion this past Veteran’s Day to sing the National Anthem in a large group, and virtually no one, except me, had their hands over their hearts. I daresay most folks thought I had gotten it wrong.

What is interesting is that the US Flag Code gives the president authority to alter customs regarding respect for the Flag.

Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States of America, set forth herein, may be altered, modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect thereto may be prescribed, by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, whenever he deems it to be appropriate or desirable; and any such alteration or additional rule shall be set forth in a proclamation.

Thanks to Snopes.com for information used in the writing of this article.

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25 Responses to Obama and the pledge, just in case you didn’t know

  1. avatar
    Janny October 18, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    Like Obama, I was taught to stand at attention during the National Anthem. However, the Pledge of Allegiance was written for school children, not grandstanding, gingoistic politicians.

  2. avatar
    Steve October 18, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

    There’s an imagine going round that’s purported to be Michelle Obama texting during the pledge at the Correspondents Dinner.
    Turns out it’s actually not her. It’s a reporter.

    http://miscellanyblue.com/post/131109638517#disqus_thread

    One of the birther reps in New Hampshire still thinks it’s the First Lady.

  3. avatar
    wrecking ball October 18, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    an image search for crowds during the national anthem show an equal mix of people with their hands over their heart and those with their hands down ( either in front, back or sides ) plus the occasional salute.

  4. avatar
    Keith October 18, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

    I listened to about 5 seconds of that video.

    I can remember when Jose Feliciano was criticized unmercifully for his rendition of the National Anthem at the World Series (1968 I think – Detroit and St. Louis? GO TIGERS). Somebody else got slammed for a ‘jazzy’ version back then too. Aretha Franklin maybe?

    I don’t know who that singer was, but it was far far worse than Jose. How come the controversy over that is the President’s posture instead of the rendition of the Anthem?

    I just listened to Jose’s version again for the first time in almost 50 years. It was actually GREAT. But it would have been difficult for the crowd to sing along.

  5. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) October 19, 2015 at 4:30 am #

    Keith: I can remember when Jose Feliciano was criticized unmercifully for his rendition of the National Anthem at the World Series

    German pop star Sarah Connor once botched the lyrics of our national anthem and was widely criticized/ridiculed for that. Instead of “Blüh im Glanze dieses Glückes” (“flourish in the splendour of this joy”), she sang “Brüh im Lichte…” (“brew in the light…”).
    Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the US-style a-capella renditions of anthems.

  6. avatar
    Krosis October 19, 2015 at 5:32 am #

    Wow, this Dr. Deb is so fervent, almost like Dr. Taitz!

  7. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 19, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    She’s a piece of work. She thinks her doctorate (college of education) makes her better than everybody else.

    Krosis: Wow, this Dr. Deb is so fervent, almost like Dr. Taitz!

  8. avatar
    Jim October 19, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    Last year, a young lady (10-12 years old) was singing the NA for an NBA game, well the poor thing got nervous and forgot the words. Doc Rivers popped right up and helped her sing it. Guess the birthers would claim the child isn’t a REAL American. BWAHAHAHA!!!

  9. avatar
    DryInk October 19, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    Jim:
    Last year, a young lady (10-12 years old) was singing the NA for an NBA game, well the poor thing got nervous and forgot the words.Doc Rivers popped right up and helped her sing it.Guess the birthers would claim the child isn’t a REAL American.BWAHAHAHA!!!

    If I remember correctly the coach was Maurice (Mo) Cheeks when he coached the Portland Trailblazers.

  10. avatar
    Jim October 19, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    @Dryink – Your memory is better than mine!

  11. avatar
    Woodrowfan October 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    She’s a piece of work. She thinks her doctorate (college of education) makes her better than everybody else.

    really? that’s kind of funny.

  12. avatar
    RanTalbott October 19, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: She thinks her doctorate (college of education) makes her better than everybody else.

    A notion somewhat disputed by the fact that her username suggests she has difficulty counting to one.

  13. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 19, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    I’m a Civitan, and we say the pledge at every meeting (most recently today), but I’m having a hard time thinking of any other situation since grade school, when the pledge was recited.

    Janny: the Pledge of Allegiance was written for school children, not grandstanding, gingoistic politicians.

  14. avatar
    ZixiOfIx October 19, 2015 at 11:38 pm #

    I’m fascinated by flag etiquette and related topics, but did not know that one is to put one’s hand over their heart for the National Anthem.

    I have a Girl Scout badge in flag etiquette and everything. When the VFW came two years ago to teach our troop (I’m a leader now), I believe they taught “stand at attention” for the anthem.

  15. avatar
    Rickey October 20, 2015 at 12:00 am #

    Here is a link to a photo of Idina Menzel singing the National Anthem at the 2014 Major League All-Star game in Minnesota. Only two or three people in the stands have a hand over their heart.

    http://fansided.com/2015/01/16/idina-menzel-national-anthem-super-bowl/

  16. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 20, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    I suspect that it shows a lack of creativity rather than a deficit in counting skills. “Drdeb” belongs to someone else at Intense Debate. I think she just doubled it when she found out it was in use. A more creative selection might have been “Dr. Nasty” or something like that.

    RanTalbott: A notion somewhat disputed by the fact that her username suggests she has difficulty counting to one.

  17. avatar
    ZixiOfIx October 22, 2015 at 6:07 am #

    Actually, it was written by Francis Bellamy to help sell flags to schools.

    Later the Pledge was adopted by grandstanding, jingoistic politicians.

    It was further modified (adding “under God”) by (you guessed it) grandstanding, jingoistic politicians.

    The history of the Pledge of Allegiance has more to do with public relations than it ever did with patriotism or school children.

    It has come to mean much more to individuals, which is wonderful, but the fact that it is used so often to beat political enemies over the head means that politicians continue to do their best to diminish its meaning.

    Janny:
    Like Obama, I was taught to stand at attention during the National Anthem. However, the Pledge of Allegiance was written for school children, not grandstanding, gingoistic politicians.

  18. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG October 22, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: A more creative selection might have been “Dr. Nasty” or something like that.

    And a more apt one would have been “Dr. Stupid”, but that handle is already owned by one Stimpson J. Cat.

  19. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 22, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

    I’ve settled on Dr. Deb Clueless

    Andrew Vrba, PmG: And a more apt one would have been “Dr. Stupid”,

  20. avatar
    Crustacean October 22, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    Well, her karma-given name is deleted3676167. But I’m partial to Dr. Deleto.

    Dr. Conspiracy: I’ve settled on Dr. Deb Clueless

  21. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 22, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    Certainly we Civitans take the Pledge very seriously. Our motto is “Builders of Good Citizenship” and our Creed includes: “MY MIND teaches me respect for law and the flag of my country.”

    ZixiOfIx: It has come to mean much more to individuals,

  22. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 22, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    Do other countries pledge allegiance to their flags?

    ZixiOfIx:
    Actually, it was written by Francis Bellamy to help sell flags to schools.

  23. avatar
    Pete October 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I’ve settled on Dr. Deb Clueless

    I’m going with Dr. Dim.

  24. avatar
    Crustacean October 22, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    Reading your question, I immediately tried to remember from my time in Belize if there was such a pledge. I know we used to sing the national anthem before every school assembly (I had the honor of accompanying on guitar a couple of times), but I don’t recall any pledge being recited.

    But I just did a little Internet search and found that in 2001 the Ministry of Human Development introduced a pledge to the flag (the only flag, to my knowledge, that has human figures prominently depicted, which I always thought was pretty cool) as part of their “Civic Education Programme”

    So now students make the pledge by placing their right hand across their heart while they recite the “Tribute to the Belizean Flag.” Note that they have “under God” in their pledge, too:

    As we unfurl your colours true,
    The white, the scarlet and royal blue,
    We pledge allegiance and with pride
    Salute you, on your heavenward ride.
    We pledge to make you always fly
    In this our bit of land and sky.
    May the unity for which you stand,
    Infuse each heart, and join each hand
    Making us one against all foes
    As under God, our nation grows.
    And so we say
    Fly high!
    Fly Proud!
    Fly free!
    Always our standard be.

    Dr. Conspiracy: Do other countries pledge allegiance to their flags?

  25. avatar
    Rickey October 25, 2015 at 1:23 am #

    ZixiOfIx:
    Actually, it was written by Francis Bellamy to help sell flags to schools.

    Later the Pledge was adopted by grandstanding, jingoistic politicians.

    It was further modified (adding “under God”) by (you guessed it) grandstanding, jingoistic politicians.

    The history of the Pledge of Allegiance has more to do with public relations than it ever did with patriotism or school children.

    It has come to mean much more to individuals, which is wonderful, but the fact that it is used so often to beat political enemies over the head means that politicians continue to do their best to diminish its meaning.

    I was in the U.S. Navy for four years (1967-1970) and I don’t recall ever saying the Pledge of Allegiance during that time.

    We did salute the flag whenever boarding or leaving a Navy ship.

    We stood at attention and saluted the flag during the National Anthem only when in uniform. If not in uniform, we were supposed to hold our hats (if we were wearing hats) over our hearts during the Anthem. Otherwise, we would place our hands over our hearts.