Why Do Military Not Remove Hats During National Anthem?

Are you wondering why do military not remove hats during national Anthem? Well, the military is a thoroughly armed, well-organized force whose use is primarily aimed at warfare. They are under the control of a sovereign state to which they owe their loyalty and can be easily identified by their unique uniforms.

However, the question is, why do military not remove hats during national anthem?

The military does not remove hats during the national anthem because hats are part of their official uniform; hence, should not be removed. While bearing arms, they will use both hands to handle their guns, therefore, no other hand to carry their hats during the national anthem.

The military has different branches, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard. In some countries, there are reserve components like the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard.

The main duty of the military is the defense of the country and its interests against external threats. Each arm of the military performs this function in its capacity. The Army protects the nation’s interest inland.

The navy is designated for water-borne defense done on surface ships, amphibious ships, submarines, and other fields. The air force is behind the nation’s aerial warfare, responsible for gaining control of the air, carrying out strategic bombing from the air, and providing support to the Army and navy when needed.

A hat is a head covering that adds an extra flair to any outfit while providing a protective or identifying purpose. Members of the military have hats as part of their ensemble. These hats include the barret, bearskin, beefeaters, beret, bersagliere, durag, Boonie and busby, etc.

National Anthem: An Overview

The National Anthem of a country is its national song performed at the beginning of official events. They are usually marches or hymns and are meant to create a soaring feeling of patriotism among its listeners.

Officially adopted National Anthems became popular in the 18th and 19th century when patriotic songs that were long in existence were accepted as a country’s anthem in places like The Netherlands, England, France, and Japan.

Following decolonization in the 1960s, newly independent countries began adopting their own National Anthems, some of which were specially commissioned like the Kenyan national anthem.

Countries like the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Norway do not have an official anthem, and so, their de facto anthems are played at official events by accepted convention.

National Anthems are played at the beginning of sporting events, during national holidays, the start and end of festivals, state functions, reception of foreign dignitaries, and at the start of the school day in some countries.
It is usually followed by a national pledge. One is expected to rise and stand still, remove any head covering or place the right hand on the chest during the National Anthem.

Significance of the National Anthem

The national anthem of a country shows its tradition, history, and beliefs of its citizens. It evokes a feeling of patriotism and reminds the people of the nation’s glory, beauty, and rich heritage.

When it is played outside one’s country, the foreign country’s citizens will feel pride and a sense of unity.

The lyrics of some anthems may have references to its history embedded. So, children will learn about their country’s history as they sing.

Do Members of the Military Remove Hats for the National Anthem?

While gentlemen expected to take off all head coverings during the National Anthem, members of the military may not do so and the reason for this is not far-fetched.

Why Do Military Not Remove Hats During National Anthem?

The reason why the military does not remove hats during the national anthem is that hats are part of the official military uniform. It completes the uniform and, by policy, cannot be removed. Without it, they would be seen as being “naked”. Therefore, removing their hats during the national anthem is like not being in a complete uniform. No wonder some find it disrespectful for a civilian to wear military hats.

When a military man is fully clothed and is outside, the hat must be kept on as it is required. If the national anthem is played outdoors, the headgear will be kept on.

Military personnel may give a salute during the National Anthem instead of removing their headgear. While bearing arms, wearing a hat is the proper and complete way to be in uniform. They use both hands to handle their rifles, so there would not be any space to carry their headgear during the National Anthem.

In the US, the General Uniform Regulations state that personnel must remain covered at all times when outdoors unless ordered otherwise. To be covered means having headgear on.

Why Does Military Take Their Hats Off Inside?

This tradition originates from the medieval times when knights who would be called soldiers in today’s world would lift their visor to show their face at the entrance to a house. The military is an institution steeped in customs, which dictates that men must take their hats off indoors because not doing so is considered disrespectful.

As soon as one enters a building or house, the hat must be removed unless one is still within public parts of the house like the foyer or hallway. A military member who keeps his/her hat on indoors is indirectly saying that they are in a hurry to leave or find the people around disdainful. Such disrespectful behavior is unbecoming of a man of uniform.

The hats are also taken off when indoors to protect the soldier from embarrassment. This is a relic of times past when doors and ceilings were lower than they are now. Walking through such a building with the hats on will knock it off one’s head or ruin the decorations on it. Wearing the hat indoors put the hat at risk of damage and subjected the military personnel to ridicule due to the scattered cap ruined by the low door or ceiling.

However, in the past, weapons used to be hidden in hats. So, the military personnel who take off their hat upon entrance to a house indirectly say that no ill will is borne to the host and there is no intention to cause harm.

It would be rude for one to keep his face hidden while having a conversation. It is thus courteous for a military member to keep his/her face open while indoors and conversing with someone. This shows that he/she can be trusted, and citizens are right to entrust their safety in the hands of this adherent to rules.

The United States of America’s General Uniform Regulations also states that personnel shall remain uncovered indoors unless directed differently. So, soldiers are by this rule compulsorily required to remove their hats when indoors.

Do Veterans have to Remove their Hat During the National Anthem?

Generally, veterans are not required to remove their hats during the National Anthem. The hat will be seen as a covering, part of their ensemble, and it cannot be taken off, or the ex-soldier will be incompletely dressed.

The United States of America Flag Code provides that veterans who are present may render the military salute when they are in uniform during the rendition of the National Anthem. Persons who are not military personnel or veterans are to stand at attention with their right hand over their chest. Hats must be removed. Veterans in America are obviously not meant to remove their hats during the National Anthem.


A popular phrase goes thus, “A Soldier and a Gentleman.” Therefore, soldiers are regarded as a gentleman and must abide by the rules of etiquette by not removing hats during the national anthem since the rule mandated them not to. In fact, a higher standard is expected of them in that regard. Since etiquette says that hats are not allowed to stay on when a man enters a restaurant, table, and building, a soldier must take it off to not risk insulting his host, which would be a disrespectful behavior a soldier and a gentleman must never indulge in.