Having grown up in a military family I learned the proper way to show respect to our flag at a young age. Along with that came the understanding that one should not applaud after the performance of our National Anthem. And yet every time I attend a public event like a sporting competition the audience applauds at the end. Am I remembering this social convention
Dear Patriotic But Perplexed:
You remember the social convention correctly, but alas, Custom has overtaken Convention in the last 40 years or so. One does not with Perfect Propriety applaud an act of patriotism; the performance of the act is its own reward. But as you observe, at every sporting event now for decades, the singing of the national anthem concludes with the applause of the assembly. And even though it's incorrect, it isn't going to change. This leaves Perfectly Proper sports fans with three options: stand there looking virtuous (and, one hopes, not too much like a spoilsport), dwelling on all that incorrect applause; sacrifice your standards and training and applaud along with your fellow citizens, even though you know it's not Perfectly Proper; or spend more time than usual putting your hat back on (if you're a gentleman; a lady does not remove her hat for the national anthem, unless it's a baseball cap).
Etiquetteer enjoins you from admonishing those nearby not to applaud. The Perfectly Proper have lost this round, and nothing you say will change it.
Etiquetteer can't claim to have studied this phenomenon, but perhaps applause after the national anthem is related to - how shall Etiquetteer say this? - the increase in Vocal Histrionics now almost required to perform the national anthem in stadiums. So often Etiquetteer is tempted to holler "Just sing the song!" But that, too, simply would not be Perfectly Proper.