Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Rossell G. O'Brien (1846-1914) - Started Tradition of Standing During National Anthem

[O'Brien gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 6

Rossell O'Brien entered the military during the American Civil War enlisting in Company D of the 134th Illinois Infantry as a 2nd Lieutenant. After the war, O'Brien stayed in the military and eventually reached the rank of Brigadier General.

He is most notably known as being the man who started the custom of standing and removing your hat during the playing of the National Anthem.

In 1892, O'Brien was elected the 15th mayor of Olympia, Washington. The next year, in 1893, he became adjutant-general of the state of Washington, serving until 1897.


Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, you've got a fascinating blog going here. Actually found it via a google search looking for more info on Rossell G. O'Brien.

I stumbled across a plaque today in Tacoma that was placed in his honor on the Bostwick building. This is the claimed site where the tradition was started by Mr. O'Brien.

Anonymous said...

Great story about O'Brien, but not true, despite the plague at the cemetery. Read all about it in Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of the United States National Anthem, due in September on Johns Hopkins University Press, just in time for the song's bicentennial.