Bostwick Building National Anthem Plaque Tacoma, WA

Bostwick Building National Anthem Plaque

A little-known historical fact about Tacoma is the tradition of standing for the national anthem began in the city 124 years ago, as commemorated by a bronze plaque. General Rossell G. O’Brien, a Civil War veteran and the “father” of the Washington National Guard, proposed the idea during a meeting of war veterans on October 18, 1893, although other individuals had suggested it earlier. Despite the debate about its origins, standing for the national anthem has become a simple act of patriotism. However, the relationship between the country and its national anthem has been complicated long before body position became a measure of patriotism.

The event took place in the 1889 Bostwick Building, located at 755 St. Helens Ave in downtown Tacoma, where the tradition of standing for the national anthem was born. Today, the Bostwick Building houses a Tully’s coffee, tattoo shop, and apartments. However, the historical significance of the building remains, as evidenced by the bronze plaque that commemorates the event.

According to an essay by historian Duane Colt Denfeld on historylink.org, several individuals had suggested standing for the national anthem earlier than General O’Brien. For example, in 1891, Michigan Senator Julius Burrows spoke at West Point, stating that he would like to see every true American rise to their feet in recognition of the anthem. Nonetheless, General O’Brien’s official motion is recognized as the starting point of the tradition of standing for the national anthem.

The relationship between the country and its national anthem has been a source of debate and controversy for decades. In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which would eventually become the national anthem. The song’s third verse, which celebrates the defeat of slaves who fought for the British, has been criticized for its racist undertones. Additionally, some argue that the national anthem’s militaristic imagery is inappropriate for a country founded on the principles of freedom and democracy.

Despite these controversies, standing for the national anthem has become a way for many Americans to express their patriotism. In recent years, however, the tradition has become a divisive issue, with some athletes and others choosing to kneel or sit during the anthem as a form of protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

In conclusion, the tradition of standing for the national anthem began in downtown Tacoma 124 years ago, as proposed by General Rossell G. O’Brien during a meeting of war veterans. Although other individuals had suggested the idea earlier, O’Brien’s official motion is recognized as the starting point of the tradition. The Bostwick Building, where the event took place, still stands in downtown Tacoma, housing a Tully’s coffee, tattoo shop, and apartments, and is commemorated by a bronze plaque. The relationship between the country and its national anthem has been a complex and controversial issue, but standing for the anthem remains a way for many Americans to express their patriotism.

Visit another Tacoma, WA Landmark: Tacoma Art Museum