Kids Remove hats during national anthemA friend of mine recently went to a Memphis Redbirds baseball game. During the playing of the national anthem, he noticed that quite a few kids and dads kept their hats on throughout the song. A lot more people didn’t bother placing their hand over their heart.

He said, “I think it’s pretty sad that so many Americans only feel patriotic shortly after a national tragedy or acts of terrorism like 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombings. We should feel patriotic every time the national anthem is played.”

I couldn’t agree with him more. The national anthem isn’t something we have to put up with before the game starts. It’s a time to reflect and show appreciation for the opportunity to live in a free society. It’s pretty sad that the Kiss Cam gets more attention than the flag does during the national anthem.

Another thing my friend said was, “It made me wonder if dads today are telling their kids why they need to take off their hats and cover their hearts.”

So now I’m asking you…

Do You Tell Your Son To Remove His Hat During The National Anthem?

Do you lead by example?

Does Your Son Know Why He Should Remove His Hat?

This isn’t a time to play the “Because I said so” card. After the Anthem is over, tell him why removing his cap is so significant. It defeats the purpose of having him take off his hat if he has no clue why he’s doing it. (If you’re curious about when playing the national anthem before sporting events became a tradition, here’s a good brief article on it.)

What Properly Observing The National Anthem Teaches Kids

It’s OK for some things to get lost with each passing generation, but patriotism should not be one of those things. Far too many men and women have given their lives for that to happen.

When we teach our kids why they need to remove their hats and properly observe the flag during the playing of our national anthem, here’s what else we can teach them in the process:

  • Understanding
    The freedom we are fortunate enough to live with is anything but free. Talk to your kids about what it took for our nation to be the “land of the free” and “home of the brave.” Help them understand the sacrifice so many members of our military have made and continue to make every day.
  • Appreciation
    Once they understand the sacrifices it takes to live in a free society, help them appreciate it. Put it in a context they’ll understand. Talk to them about the thousands of kids who will never see their dad or mom again because they lost their lives fighting for our freedom and safety.
  • Pride
    Being an American is like being on the roster of the greatest team in the world. The national anthem is our team’s fight song. The flag is our team logo. Be proud of your home team.
  • Unity
    Regardless of political or religious beliefs and financial status, we’re all Americans. We may disagree on 10 out of 10 topics, but one thing we can all agree upon is that we love this country and want what’s best for it. I wish we could all treat each other with the love and respect we shared after 9/11. That was one nation united like I’ve never seen before. It was awesome. When the national anthem plays at sporting events, I can still feel a glimmer of that unity within the stadium. We owe it to our kids and to our country to raise them to show and feel that kind of unity with their fellow Americans.

This Memorial Day Weekend

I don’t know how soon you’ll be with your son at a professional sporting event, but I’m guessing you’ll be with him over this Memorial Day weekend. Make sure he knows why you get to be off work on Monday. Make sure he understands that while you guys are talking and enjoying your day, American Soldiers are risking their lives around the world so that he can grow up with opportunities to do anything he sets his mind to.

And make sure he knows why, at the next game you guys attend together, he will be removing his hat and properly saluting the flag during the national anthem.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend with your family.

(Special Thanks to “A&B Woods, Inc.” for the idea behind this post.)

Kevin Duy is a Sports Dad of three boys & creator of www.SportsDadHub.com – a website where you can fuel your child’s passion for sports (without burning him out.) Learn how to help your child become the best athlete HE wants to be, and use sports to teach life lessons along the way. Connect with Kevin on Facebook and Twitter.