Diatribe: Show Some Respect And Take Off Your Hat.
I watched some of yesterday’s television tributes and the dedication of the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. I was amazed by the size and scope of the crowd in attendance. Some of them looked like they were going to church, some looked like tourists, some looked like they were on their way home from the gym and many were wearing hats. Even Paul Simon wore a hat as he sang.
In the past, people wore hats all the time for both fashionable and utilitarian reasons. But, in polite society, there were rules to be followed about when to take them off. Cowboys, who needed their hats as protection from the sun during the day, knew to take them off when coming indoors. Any time a lady was present or food was being eaten it was considered disrespectful to leave a hat on. Even today, when you wear a hat you indicate that you’re going somewhere. So, if you wear a hat indoors, it suggests that you have someplace better to be.
Congress has actually addressed the hat issue in their pamphlet on flag etiquette entitled Our Flag. When in civilian attire, both men and women are to remove their hats and hold them at their left shoulder with their right hand over their heart
“It is not necessary to add that every American male citizen stands with his hat off at the passing of the ‘colors’ and when the national anthem is played. If he didn’t, some other more loyal citizen would take it off for him.” – Emily Post, in her 1922 book Etiquette
A lady’s hat is considered part of her fashion ensemble, and doesn’t necessarily need to be removed since her hair might become messed. The only time a lady must remove her hat is when it blocks the view of someone behind her.
Personally, I would like to think the somber memorial to the victims and the heroes of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in all of modern history would be an appropriate time and place to remove one’s hat.