The United States Navy has issued an official memo reminding both uniformed active-duty Sailors and reserve personnel that they must stand at attention and face the flag when the national anthem is played. Navy Regulation 1205 mandates that all personnel in uniform must pay their respects to the flag. The memo was released after two separate incidents where U.S. Navy Sailors decided to show their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by refusing to stand when the Star Spangled Banner was played. Navy Reserve Forces Command has made it clear that Sailors can be punished or prosecuted for engaging these protests.
Video footage of one of the protests can be seen below. This video was posted to social media shortly after the protest occurred and quickly went viral.
Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states that failure to comply with these regulations is punishable by administrative separation from the armed services. It is a reminder that, while still granted the same rights and freedoms of non-military citizens, members of the armed forces are held to higher standards. The official statement from the Navy reads:
“While military personnel are not excluded from the protections granted by the First Amendment, the US Supreme Court has stated that the different character of our community and of the military mission requires a different application of those protections,”
The Navy has stated the the sailor in the video has been disciplined for her actions but has not been dismissed from the service. The military will be introducing additional social media training courses to instruct service members on how to represent themselves online in response to the incident.