Tuesday, August 23, 2011

American Traditions: Why We Raise The Flag and Sing The National Anthem At Concerts and Sporting Events

In the early years of the 20th century there were always live bands in the stands at major league baseball games. It was part of the fun and atmosphere of baseball in those days.

During the seventh inning stretch at game one of the 1918 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, the band decided to play The Star Spangled Banner. The Cubs and Red Sox players stopped their casual stretches, spontaneously stood to attention, doffed their caps, and all faced the center field flagpole with their hands over their hearts. The crowd began to sing along and applauded wildly when the anthem was over.

An American Tradition was born.

The song continued to be played at baseball games, but only on special occasions like Opening Day, the 4th of July and during the World Series, even after the song officially became our national anthem by Congressional Resolution in 1931.

During World War II, baseball became a focal point for patriotic displays to rally the Home Front, and the national anthem was played before the start of every game throughout the war. By wars end, the pregame singing of the anthem and salute to our flag had become a solidly embedded tradition, and since has spread to other sports and venues.

Today it’s American as apple pie to see the stands at every sporting event large and small crowded with fans wearing patriotic shirts and doffing patriotic hats to hold over their hearts as they sing along to The Start Spangled Banner.

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