What do you when you are at an event and the national anthem is played? Some people put their hand over their heart, but I don’t. I face the flag and stand in a position called parade rest. I do this to honor both the flag and my military heritage – 8 great years active duty in the United States Air Force.
Here is what the USAF taught me about how to honor the flag during the playing of the national anthem. If in uniform and outside, face the flag, stand at attention, and salute. If in uniform and inside, face the flag and stand at parade rest, a relaxed form of attention. If in civilian clothes, whether outside or inside, face the flag and stand at parade rest. I no longer wear the uniform, but to this day I still practice what I learned in the USAF about how to show respect for the flag in any setting.
So when the national anthem plays, I stand pretty much the way Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas is standing in this picture taken during the gold medal ceremony on August 10, 2016. The only difference is my hands would be behind my back – that’s it. When I look at this picture I see nothing wrong, only five amazing young women that through hard work and perseverance brought credit to themselves, their team, and the entire United States of America. Yet for some reason, a lot of misguided and just plain mean people took to social media to criticize Gabby for being the only one on her team to not place her hand over her heart while the anthem played during the gold medal ceremony.
For the record, Gabby was right, and her critics were wrong – in so many ways. I’ve taught my children to stand and face the flag when the anthem plays; not once have I taught them to place a hand over the heart. If my kids ever did choose to place the hand over the heart, I’d never criticize them, because both expressions are acceptable.
The only controversy here is the unacceptable public shaming of a remarkable human being. #love4gabbyusa