Anthem tradition disrespectful? Think again, Rob Otto.

Put down the stones and step back into your glass house, Rob Otto. You’re entitled to your opinion, but make sure you start thinking more clearly before publishing your work — especially in the forum you intend to do so.

Otto of publicized his distaste for the Chicago Blackhawks’ tradition of cheering throughout the National Anthem before games at the United Center yesterday, writing it is “disrespectful to the song and what it stands for…” His military upbringing did not teach him such practices, and Otto was taught to have respect for his country and for his flag.

Otto doesn’t buy Blackhawks fans are being patriotic, and it “makes his skin crawl every time he hears it.” And Otto wrote this on his blog titled, “Ottoman Empire.”

Hmm. “Ottoman Empire,” huh? Interesting play on words. What’s the point you’re trying to make, Mr. Otto, with the title of this blog? The Ottoman Empire controlled parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, expanding the empire by war and ruling for nearly 700 years into the 20th Century.

Want to talk about disrespect? I can assure you there’s no one out there with ancestors who supported the Ottoman Empire writing for blogs titled “The United States of America” and bashing traditions they don’t understand. Whether or not you came up with this title, Mr. Otto, a rather large chunk of world history has been demeaned to make you look creative.

Simply because you believe you have a strong voice with powerful opinions and want to make your readers clear that is the case, you have no right to compare yourself to an empire which dominated most of the world over the course of two different centuries.

My point is this, Mr. Otto: The title of your blog I’m more than sure means no disrespect to anyone. I’m sure you and most of your readers even find it to be slightly humorous. I know this, and I know there’s no significant meaning to it. The same goes for Blackhawks fans who cheer during the National Anthem in support of their country. No disrespect is meant, and there’s no malicious intent by partaking in this tradition.

I interviewed Jim Cornelison, who sings a heart-throbbing rendition of the song every night before faceoff. He enjoys the tradition, and he’s smart enough to know the fans aren’t cheering for him. They cheer because of the song he’s singing with passion.

Men and woman who have and currently are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces stand patriotically next to Cornelison as he bellows out the tune over the roaring fans. These men and woman are well aware of the tradition before stepping foot onto that red carpet extended onto the ice. Do you really believe these soldiers would partake in the event if they believe the United Center tradition is disrespectful to the country they’re serving?

The soldiers stand proudly during the Anthem, then gladly accept a standing ovation midway through each game from their seat as the crowd makes known its appreciation of their service. Even the players knock their sticks against the boards to salute them.

You’re also forgetting before the 1991 All-Star Game at Chicago Stadium, the tradition you loathe led to captivating millions of viewers around the country in support of our troops serving in the Gulf War. Fans hung flags from the rafters, tears rolled down the faces of many in the crowd and patriotism was taken to another level.

If that’s not respect, I don’t know what more you want. I’m a season ticket holder, and I partake in this tradition proudly. It literally gives me chills. Because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean you have to knock it.

People celebrate and support traditions in different manners than others. I’ll accept the point you made: Not all traditions are always right.

But celebrating a tradition differently than yourself doesn’t always make it wrong, either.

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  • Joe


    As Mr. Otto explained in his article cheering during the anthem is AGAINST GOVERNMENT CODE! If you take time to notice the armed service men and women at Hawks games they follow this code by saluting our flag. Even the former armed service people in plain clothes who stand next to the uniformed soldiers put their hand over their heart as the code directs us to do. My grandfather (R.I.P) a WWII POW purple heart and bronze star vet was always appalled to see when the code is not followed, be it a flag hanging unlit in the night sky or someone making noise or not removing their hat for then anthem. He fought for this country and gives our flag and anthem the respect it deserves! I know the Hawks fans mean no disrespect but IT IS against our code, our tradition, and our duty as Americans!

    Thank you for your time.

    Joe Beleski

  •$$xa$$busc36.wais&start=222563&SIZE=2601&TYPE=TEXT Joe

    FYI here is the Government Code 36

    From the U.S. Code Online via GPO Access
    [Laws in effect as of January 3, 2007]
    [CITE: 36USC301]

    [Page 28-29]


    Subtitle I–Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies

    Part A–Observances and Ceremonies


    Sec. 301. National anthem

    (a) Designation.–The composition consisting of the words and music
    known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
    (b) Conduct During Playing.–During a rendition of the national
    (1) when the flag is displayed–
    (A) all present except those in uniform should stand at
    attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;

    [[Page 29]]

    (B) men not in uniform should remove their headdress with
    their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder,
    the hand being over the heart; and
    (C) individuals in uniform should give the military salute
    at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until
    the last note; and

    (2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face
    toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag
    were displayed.

    (Pub. L. 105-225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1263.)

  • Frank Rekas

    Unbelieveable. As a former season seat holder for 12 years until I moved, I will never forget the siging of the anthem and the crowd cheering all the way through. It’s a solid tradition that will never be repeated. The all-star game s chiocago stadium was the best ever.

    Believe me there is nothing disprespectful about it, and no other sports franchise can duplicate it!

  • Joe

    We honor those who gave their lives for this country with a moment of silence. We honor our country by standing up during our national anthem saluting or placing our hands over our hearts. I see nothing honorable in screaming, whistling, clapping and cheering during our nation’s anthem. Just because something is a tradition doesn’t make it right.

    • Rachel

      What if we are not only cheering for our country but also for the armed forces in war and the men and women standing on the ice? What if we are saluting and thanking them in the only way that they can hear us?
      I don’t usually partake in a whole lot of cheering but I hve never seen anyone in a hat during the national anthem and the one time I did, there were a group of people that walked over and told the man to remove his hat out of respect. I also see a lot of people screaming while having their hand over their hearts.
      Our cheering is just Chicago thanking the armed forces and our ancestors in the only way they can hear us.

  • Jim N

    As a Veteran of the US Marine Corps, nothing…and I mean NOTHING…creates goosebumps for me faster than being a part of the home crowd at the United Center when Jim belts out our National Anthem. I don’t take the ear-splitting roar throughout the entire rendition as a sign of disrespect by the fans; on the contrary I see it as one of honor, support, pride, love, and immense respect. Their powerful, emphatic display puts a huge smile on my face and leaves me speechless every time I experience it. The crowd’s reaction during the National Anthem at the United Center is many things, but disrespectful isn’t one of them.

  • JAK

    Write your congressman, Joe. I’m sure he or she will listen. No wait, you did already and there is a house bill on the senate floor manadating prison time. I heard they’re gonna lump “us” in there with the sex offenders and post it on twitter.. Excellent work. The Code says nothing about silence. It’s an interpretation and when I’m at 1901 W. Madison St. my interpreation is Let’s Go Hawks, and Let’s Go America! Save the “Pomp & Circumstance” for the Olympics. Remember The Roar, keep the Madhouse on Madison alive! Better yet “workingjoe”, go to Mr. Obama and meow meow to him. Who better than our Commander-N-Chief to enforce this, right? Yeah, I’m sure he’ll listen….

  • John from Chicago

    In the America we live in today, it is rare to find 22000 people in one place and at one time standing and reveling in pride, patriotism, and in honor of our country. What the news reports fail to mention, that at each singing of the National Anthem, there is an active-duty member of the Armed Forces in attendance and a veteran. In the middle of the second period, the same people who are standing and cheering our country during our National Anthem, stand and cheer in honor for the members of the Armed Service in attedance at the game. Without fail at every game, everyone stands up and applaudes them. This is patriotism at its best. Maybe more of us should feel the spirit of all those listening and watching at Chicago Blackhawk home games. And I personnally think we should all yell our patriotism from the rooftops.

  • Andrew

    I know this comment won’t go anywhere because ignorant people never learn… but I am here on Fort Bragg and every day at 1700 “To The Colors” is played throughout post. At every Army installation it is code to stand at attention, and salute, either towards a flag or the speaker where the anthem is coming from. People even have to get out of their vehicles to salute during this time.

    HOWEVER, Soldiers and civilians are no longer required to even stop their vehicles during this time. The code has not changed it has just been adapted, and this is at FORT BRAGG, the largest Army base in the US.

    So tell me, If the United States Army will allow that, what is wrong with what the people are doing at the United Center. Though their is “code” this is a respected adaptation honoring Country.

    This has been going on since the ’80s people just want to hate on the Blackhawks because we’re finally out-playing everyone.

  • JAK

    John and Andrew, Thank You!!!

  • Jeff

    Love the debate, guys. I hope in my short time on the air today I defended us Blackhawks fans well!

  • JAK

    Jeff, I was up @ 0430! Waiting! You got the short end of a 6-7 min. skit… You should have just started the singing or playing the anthem right when he started to spout! That’s what I wanted U to do. And then go effn MOCK II on him when he tried to defend his point. Stand at attention NOW! Idiot.

  • Joe

    I’m not questioning the respect one has for this country when they don’t follow the code at Hawks games. I get that you believe you’re showing your support for our country. I’m just trying to explain WHY THE CODE is written the way it is… During the anthem it’s a time to reflect on those who died for it’s colors to fly not to cheer the fact that you’re all in this together (be it a Hawks game or whatever!) I get just as irritated when others don’t follow the code, it’s nothing absolutely nothing to do with where you are or what jersey you’re wearing. Get over yourselves for a minute and realize your right to not honor the code are the same rights soliders died defending for you to do so.. Get it yet? Or are you just going to pontificate that it’s not done on an army base any longer so I don’t have to either neener neener neener… Grow up people!

  • Austin W

    Jeff, I am with you on this one. Besides the fact that I like the Hawks second to the Stars, the Stars have the tradition of yelling Stars during the anthem and at times the Stars fans and organization has taken crap for it. I think it shows support to the team and the country, as we all sing along, yell Stars and then stay standing to support our troops at the 1st TV break. I’ve seen active military join with us in it, it is just what the loyal Stars fans do. I like chicago as well. Neither is meant for disrespect or hate. Both are to show support and that the fans are there for their teams and country.

  • JAK

    “I’m not questioning the respect one has for this country when they don’t follow the code at Hawks games.” WHAT!?! You’re not questioning? Than shut up…. “I get that you believe you’re showing your support for our country.” You do????????????? No you don’t! First, it’s not a funeral, a 911 memorial, or a start to a union convention. So yes, I say NO too, except at 1901 W. Madison, sorry! Second, we play the anthem for those reasons you described and more! The song has many purposes. Celebrate the existence of our freedom. Amend the code, add to it, and make it explicit! Don’t do away with it! It’s a code, not a law! I know how it reads and think it’s ambiguous (as do many). The retired veteran and the current serviceman in uniform that come out and stand for the anthem (@ attention) know exactly what they’re getting into. It’s not sprung on ‘em. Hey! ”Sam the Eagle” I more than get it! People who don’t stand and cheer at a Blackhawks game during the national anthem should be escorted out and “FED” to the Westside! And you think we’re being pompous? You want to talk about honor and bravery? Do it every third day for 24 hrs. When I come home from shift I talk about it with my wife, kids, and FD brothers and sisters! When I have to take the physically and sexually abused 5 yr old to the hospital for a rape exam the situation itself commands respect…. So ya know what “Joe”, you’re damn right I’m going to have an outlet! Write your congressman, call Obama, I’m sure they got nothing better, wait a minute you already did. Good luck with that…. Look up the word “reverence” Mr. Wordsmith; it says nothing about “Keep quiet” (let alone at Hawks Games). You want me to stand at attention? Eyes will be facing the flag. You want me to remove my hat? Where’s the hat rack? Hand over my heart? I’ll caress the myocardium…. Then, scream until my larynx unseats itself. That is the UC and “The Anthem” isn’t going away. Get over Y-O-U-R-S-E-L-F!

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  • Joe

    JAK I looked up reverence for you but to get to the real meaning of the word you have go to it’s root “Revere” Here’s it’s definition…

    Main Entry: 1re·vere
    Pronunciation: \ri-ˈvir\
    Function: transitive verb
    Inflected Form(s): re·vered; re·ver·ing
    Etymology: Latin revereri, from re- + vereri to fear, respect — more at wary
    Date: 1615

    : to show devoted deferential honor to : regard as worthy of great honor
    synonyms revere, reverence, venerate, worship, adore mean to honor and admire profoundly and respectfully. revere stresses deference and tenderness of feeling . reverence presupposes an intrinsic merit and inviolability in the one honored and a similar depth of feeling in the one honoring . venerate implies a holding as holy or sacrosanct because of character, association, or age . worship implies homage usually expressed in words or ceremony . adore implies love and stresses the notion of an individual and personal attachment .

    So yeah I guess you can interpret that and twist it any way you want to make yourself feel better about cheering like a buffoon but I still don’t see how you’re following the code in doing so. Therefore you and other Hawks fans can just clap on and look like clowns oh wait can’t clap with your hand on your heart so cheer on, cheer on morons whatever makes you feel better I just won’t be joining you it goes against everything that’s implied in the code and you know it! Once again GET OVER YOURSELF! Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

  • JAK

    I never felt bad about it to begin with. You two guys have the problem with it, and you’re gettin you panties in a bunch about it. Ahh yes, another translation molded to fit one’s self ideals and interpretations. Seems there’s a lot of that around here. And I’m glad you can twist it around too. So like I said before, nothing about silence in either definition…. Hmmmm. I wonder Joe, how much of a buffoon you look like at home when the anthem plays on the TV or radio…. Joe faces the TV, places his han over his heart, and weeps openly. When the last note rings out he turns to Rob Otto and give’s em a big hug. Nice try anyway. Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!

  • Joe

    I just witnessed something worse at the bar last night, There was one idiot clapping, whistling and screaming during the anthem was playing for the Hawks v. Ducks last night. Everyone in the suburban Chicago sports bar that is known for hosting road watches just looked at him like he was fool. Otto and I took him out back and kicked his head in kind of like Wiz did to Seabs.

  • JAK

    Good! I agree! Get ‘em!

  • LUE

    Isn’t it against the government code to stand why it is being played not paying attention and your hands across your private area just like Mr Obama does?

    I say let them alone they are showing their pride and love for the anthem in their own special way. If our service men and women don’t object why do others? Is it just a reason to gripe about something? Just shut up set down and relax!

  • Jeff

    I heard from a someone on the site’s Facebook fan page this was once again being discussed on Fox News this morning. Can anyone fill me in?

  • JAK

    Hi Jeff,

    There hasn’t been anything additional posted or broadcast on it. Just a couple of Detroit fans envious over somethin’ we got and they couldn’t understand. If you read the post’s above Joe thinks he’s in a boat crossing the Delaware River or just completed a fantastic routine on the uneven bars. Enjoy the Anthem the way it was meant to be enjoyed @ 1901 W. Madison St. Hawks Fans! Legally!!! at attention, hat off, hand over heart, scream! Well, maybe not for Joe or Rob Otto… Now I’m sure Joe will respond with a “Get over yourself” or “You’re breaking the la…. I mean code….” Joe? Regardless, this is a dead issue. LET’S GO HAWKS!

  • Joe

    I was at yesterdays game with my hand over my heart during the anthem and got to enjoy another Red Wings victory! The cheering anthem and idiotic “Detroit S*cks” chant all put in the shut the f*ck up bin after a Brad Stuart OT goal! Throw out the octopus it’s playoff time!

  • BRET

    I am here today to inquire to anyone who can assist me.
    Our family, like the Blackhawks, lives on tradition. Ours being one of military. Now we have a forthcoming member of the family, with a great story of service both in the theater and off. I am trying to find out how the servicemen get seleted to stand on the ice during the anthem. Though late in the season I truly feel this man deserves that honor and wanna find out how this is chosen so i may pursue getting him this honor. Could anyone assist me in making this happen for him?

    Thanks for the help in advance.
    Our servicemen ARE the reason we get to be the free Americans we are, I want to make this happen.


  • Eric

    My Dad was a WWII vet. He didn’t serve to protect a piece of cloth or a song. He served to protect our Constitution and the freedoms it stands for–including the First Amendment Freedom of Speech. The US Supreme Court has ruled the Flag Code unconstitutional as a violation of freedom of speech.

  • JAK

    This was off facebook today:

    Rob Otto May 27 at 2:27pm Report
    Oh, James. The Supreme Court did not say the Flag Code was unconstitutional. They said enforcing penalties against those who break the Flag Codes in protest is against the First Amendment. If you’re going to argue a point, at least get the facts straight.

    And luckily the national media has not been airing the national anthems on the games so far. I can only hope that continues in the Stanley Cup Finals.

  • JAK

    My answer. And he thought I was arguing… Sad… but I’m glad he started to think more clearly.

    Oh, Rob:

    I was actually asking you about the facts. Thanks for the clarification! Was just making sure we all new it was OK! Not arguing anything…. It was “Our” friend Eric who made that post:

    I just want to hear you say it! Thanks again.

    Go Hawks!

  • Jer


    I can’t even comprehend how people think this is disrespectful to our country. Everyone is cheering for our country and our country’s national song.

    I went to a Hawks game a couple years ago and it was amazing. My hair was standing up and I go chills through my body. When they got to the “…for the land of the free… and the home of the brave” part it’s so loud you wouldn’t be able to hear yourself talking and you can feel the vibration of the stadium through you whole body.

    Blackhawks fans are not disrespecting the flag or the song, they are cheering as loud as they can for our country. This is patriotism at it’s finest. If anything it’s disrespectful NOT to cheer for our song. I can guarantee that Blackhawks fans are some of the most patriotic hockey fans in the NHL. And if you got a problem with the way we do things in Chicago, go into the Madhouse on Madison and tell all the Hawks fans how you feel, I’ll bet you wont make it out of there.

  • Singer12

    ok people like Joe need to get over themselves. Seriously the Hawks national anthem is amazing. Quit crying, and until you have served and been deployed, then you can come back and tell me you think it’s disrespectful. Shut up and enjoy that any part of this nation still shows respect for America

  • Heywood Jabloume

    Rob Otto needs to drink a cup of STFU! There is nothing wrong nor disrespectful of this Chicago tradition.