Simply put, no.
But Mr. Bartlett, a Libertarian blogger and Irvine Finance Commissioner, posted an interesting item on his Facebook page at the end of June concerning a matter of the playing of the National Anthem prior to the last Irvine City Council meeting in June.
Bartlett wrote, “I guess it’s too much to expect Larry Agran and Beth Krom to show a little respect during the playing of the National Anthem before the start of the council meeting.” And there was Agram and Krom, standing at attention, while Mayor Steven Choi, Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway and Council member Christina Shea all had their right hands over their hearts as the Anthem was played.
Bartlett’s screed reminded me of the flap over presidential candidate Barack Obama not covering his heart with his hand in 2007.
Etiquette towards our flag during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem have evolved over many years. It wasn’t until 1998, for example, when it became protocol to place one’s right hand over the heart for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. In 2008, non-uniformed military could salute. When I was a wee lad, we were taught standing at attention and facing the flag was enough. And it is:
United States Code, 36 U.S.C. § 301, states that during a rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart; men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed. Recently enacted law in 2008 allows military veterans to salute out of uniform, as well.
However, this statutory suggestion does not have any penalty associated with violations. 36 U.S.C. § 301 Moreover, generations of students who were introduced to flag etiquette prior to its enactment in 1998 were taught that the hand over the heart gesture was exclusively for the Pledge of Allegiance which has had the statutory requirement for much longer.(4 U.S.C. § 4) This behavioral requirement for the national anthem is subject to the same First Amendment controversies that surround the Pledge. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to stand for or sing the national anthem..
Don’t believe me; go to any Angels game and start counting people who simply stand for the National Anthem; getting people to remove their caps is hard enough.
What Bartlett failed to mention is, in reality, everyone on the Dais, from the city council members to staff, technically showed did not follow proper protocol to the flag during the playing of the National Anthem because the only flag in city council chambers is behind the council (there’s another for color guard presentations but that was not on display for the meeting in question). No one on the dais faced the flag during the playing of the National Anthem as they were all facing the pianist who did a terrific arrangement. That’s only acceptable if there is no flag present. There was. Everyone turned to face the Flag for the Pledge of Allegiance, but did not do so for the National Anthem.
Mr. Bartlett himself likely violated etiquette for the National Anthem by NOT facing the flag when he sits on the dais for Irvine Finance Commission meetings.
Now is this a big deal? Not really. But the comment by Bartlett is designed to call into question the patriotism of Agran and Krom and perhaps give Republicans fodder for some campaign mailer. I mean it’s not like Agran or Krom posed with a Photoshopped image of a Democratic Speaker of the House as a Nazi SS officer in a public event or wearing another Photoshopped image of that Speaker at Stalin. Would that be considered unpatriotic or just in bad taste?
I’ll remind Mr. Bartlett that every time he faces the flag to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, that he is reciting an oath to a flag written by socialist minister Francis Bellamy (who happened to be from my hometown in Upstate New York). In fact, as a conservative who hates change, Mr. Bartlett ought to leave the “Under God” part out of the Pledge since it was added by Congress in the 1950s as part of campaign against communism.
In fact, I’d like to see Mr. Bartlett revert to reciting the Pledge using the “Bellamy Salute.”
The original Bellamy salute, first described in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who authored the original Pledge, began with a military salute, and after reciting the words “to the flag,” the arm was extended toward the flag.
At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute — right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” At the words, “to my Flag,” the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.
Shortly thereafter, the pledge was begun with the right hand over the heart, and after reciting “to the Flag,” the arm was extended toward the Flag, palm-down.
But with three Jewish members on the city council, I doubt the conservative approach is the way to go here. The point is, things change. Simply standing at attention for the National Anthem is completely respectful.
Perhaps in his next Finance Commission meeting, Mr. Bartlett can recommend the acquisition of a new flag to be placed in city council chambers so anyone on the Dais can face the flag to perform their patriotic duties of standing for the Pledge and the National Anthem. Perhaps Bartlett can be given a new assignment by Mayor Choi: to make sure every member of the city council is wearing their flag pins before they participate in the act of actually governing.