Donald Trump didn’t sing the entire national anthem at a football game. Does it matter?
U.S. President Donald Trump faced flak on social media Monday night after he didn’t sing the country’s entire national anthem ahead of a college football game.
Videos of the president show him standing beside veterans on the field, with his hand over his heart, but only singing a few phrases from the Star-Spangled Banner.
Social media commented that it appeared the president doesn’t know the words to the song — which is especially peculiar because of his repeated stance that the country’s flag and anthem must be respected at football games. But, technically, the president didn’t break any rules by not singing the anthem.
Trump has been criticizing National Football League players for taking a knee during the national anthem for several months. The movement was started two seasons ago by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
He spoke about the topic hours before Monday’s football game at a meeting with rural farm workers.
“There is plenty of space for people to express views and to protest,” he said. “And we love our people, we love our anthem. We want to keep it that way.”
At a September 2017 rally in Alabama, the president claimed taking a knee as a protest during the anthem “disrespects our flag.”
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“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b***h off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!'” Trump said at the time.
He has also repeatedly tweeted about the issue. The same month, he said kneeling as a protest with the Black Lives Matter movement has “nothing to do with race.”
“The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race,” he wrote. “It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
But while Trump himself has added fire to this issue, there are legitimate reasons why the president may not have sung the entire anthem. BBC News journalist Anthony Zurcher pointed out on Twitter that it can be difficult to hear the anthem on the field, and singing along isn’t always easy.
It’s also worth noting that the U.S. flag code doesn’t require Americans to sing along with the anthem.
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According to the code, during a rendition of the anthem, everyone present must stand at attention facing the flag with their right hand over their heart. Those in military uniform should salute.
There are no penalties for not following the flag code.
While Trump didn’t break the flag code, he has been criticized for a similar incident in the past.
In May 2017, Trump swayed back and forth while patting his chest during the national anthem at a Memorial Day ceremony. He only sang parts of the song.
While the president did not respond to criticism of his lack of singing, he did update his Twitter photo to a picture of himself during Monday night’s national anthem.
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