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Honors To The National Anthem

Air Force Protocol
from 'Til Wheels are Up'

HONORS TO THE NATIONAL ANTHEM
OR
"TO THE COLORS"

Francis Scott Keyes' "The Star Spangled Banner" became our national anthem on 3 March 1931. There are several versions of the words and music but Congress has not adopted a single version.

  • Outdoors.
  • When in uniform, come to attention, face the flag (or band if flag isn't visible) and salute. If the music is recorded and no flag is visible, face front and salute. In civilian or athletic clothes, do the same thing except hold your right hand over your heart. Maintain salute until the last note of music. Vehicles in motion are brought to a halt. Everyone, including the driver, remains seated at attention. These marks of respect are also shown to the national anthem of any friendly country when played upon official occasions.
  • Indoors.
  • When the national anthem is played indoors at a formal gathering, you stand at attention and face the flag if it is present, otherwise, face the music. You do not salute unless under arms. In civilian or athletic clothes, stand at attention with your right hand over your heart. Remember the above applies when the music is live and does not apply to broadcast music, such as radio or TV.

The words used by Air Force bands are the following:

THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER

O say! can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?





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