comscore Navy investigates sailor who didn’t salute national anthem | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Top News

Navy investigates sailor who didn’t salute national anthem

Honolulu » The Navy has investigated the case of a sailor who didn’t salute as the national anthem played during a recent morning flag-raising at Pearl Harbor.

U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Senior Chief Petty Officer Joel Cesar said Tuesday it’s up to the sailor’s commander whether she faces any punishment for not saluting on Sept. 19.

The sailor is Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin, an intelligence specialist in the Navy Reserve. She was recently in Hawaii for about two weeks for an exercise.

Erwin is assigned to the Navy Operational Support Center at North Island, California. The command didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Erwin didn’t respond to a message sent to a Facebook account in her name. A phone number for her was not listed.

The sailor’s failure to salute comes after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick received national attention when he refused to stand for the anthem before NFL preseason games earlier this year. He cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his actions.

Since then, other athletes all over the U.S. have engaged in their own protests during the anthem.

The Navy’s protocol handbook says sailors in uniform must salute during the anthem. They must also face the flag, or if a flag is not visible, sailors are required to face the direction of the music.

Comments (15)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Leave a Reply

    • Agree with you, general discharge. She has right to protest but not when you took an oath and serve. Can you imagine what would happen if in combat see decides to protest, not follow orders.

      • pohaku, agree. This woman felt a very strong urge to protest. Now the Navy has every right to find her behavior unbecoming and discharge her. Stand up for what you believe in, Janaye Ervin. Now face the consequences.

        • I’m sure she will and this will draw that much more attention to the need to change the United States’ disgraceful anthem.

      • Like Watada. Watada was right the 2nd Iraq war was bogus but don’t enlist, become an officer, leader and then decide not to serve because you think the war was unjust.

  • The Code of Conduct is sworn to by each enlistee. If she cannot comply or agree with it, she should resign/request to be excused from further military service. Her discharge should be other than Honorable for failure to fulfill her commitment. While committed to the military, she cannot use it as platform to voice her own personal agenda!

  • Janaye Ervin’s act of civil disobedience will be punished, as perhaps it should for the sake of maintaining discipline. But don’t kid yourselves about the effect that will have on public opinion. Her willingness to risk punishment and to face it will serve to elevate her protest, and by many she will be seen has having more bravery and integrity for it. The bottom line is that she has history and the truth on her side. Let me explain.

    Our national anthem was written by a racist, Francis Scott Key. In its original, unsanitized version, it contains a third stanza that is pro-slavery. In fact, the entire country in 1812 was dominated by racist, government-sanctioned white-supremacy. It was the law of the land.


    Francis Scott Key was a lawyer in Washington DC, and his patron in later years was the virulently racist and evil president Andrew Jackson. Key represented slaveholders in D.C. where from the corner of 3rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW to 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW was located the epicenter of the slave trade. This is a short stroll east from the new African American Museum that opened last Saturday. Chained slaves could daily be seen passing the Capitol and the White House. They were kept in pens and cells in the downtown area and on the Mall. Slave auctions were held in city taverns and on the streets.

    We now know about this abomination from the contributions of several historians, but a standout is the work of James M. Goode in his publication, “Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington’s Destroyed Buildings.”

    The historical record is also clear on this fact: Francis Scott Key prided himself as a humanitarian, and many Americans believe this to be the case, but in fact he was a racist. As a young lawyer, he had defended African-Americans in court and some called him “the Blacks’ lawyer” because of this. Key became an expert in slave law, and spoke publicly of Africans in America as “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.”

    While he was against bringing new slaves into the country (the trans-Atlantic slave trade), he whole-heartedly supported slavery and opposed granting freedom and citizenship to African-Americans. He joined the American Colonization Society in support of sending free blacks (but not slaves) back to Africa. This was done because their presence served as “a perpetual excitement” to the enslaved blacks and threatened the slave societies of the South. All of the early organizers of the Society were slaveholders. According to annual reports of the Society, they hoped in this effort to strengthen the institution of slavery in the United States.

    By 1835, Key had parlayed his Washington DC law practice into political connections with the network of editors, landowners and slave masters around General Andrew Jackson. With a few exceptions, the author of our national anthem was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time.

    But Key had first become famous almost by accident. He wrote the “Star Spangled Banner” in September 1814 and it became immediately popular. Amazingly, the song was the product of a humiliation.


    Francis Scott Key was a veteran of what some dubbed “the Bladensburg Races,” the total collapse of American forces during the British invasion of Washington in August 1814. When the untrained American militia faced the dogged advance by British troops, backed by artillery fire, the Americans broke rank and fled by the hundreds and then by the thousands. They ran as fast as they could, hence the humorous reference to “The Races.” In the Bladensburg Races, most simply ran back toward Washington, including Lieutenant Francis Scott Key.

    It is notable that the British forces included “Colonial Marines”. These Marines were a battalion of runaway slaves who joined with the British Royal Army in exchange for their freedom. The Marines were not only a terrifying example of what slaves would do if given the chance, but also a repudiation of the white superiority that men like Key were so invested in.

    Seeking to redeem his battlefield cowardice, Key negotiated with British forces that had arrested a family friend, and managed to join him aboard a British ship as the fleet bombarded Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor on September 14, 1814. He witnessed the British proving their prowess in a spectacular and useless display of military power by pummeling the fort with bombs. The Americans did not return fire, but did hang a red, white and blue flag out. At dawn — much to everyone’s surprise — the British had not breached the fort’s walls and the flag was still there.

    Key decided to write a patriotic song, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, right then and there. With Key still bitter that some black soldiers got the best of him a few weeks earlier, his third stanza defends slavery and decries the former slaves who were now working for the British army:

    And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
    That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
    A home and a Country should leave us no more?
    Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
    No refuge could save the hireling and slave
    From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    According to the historian Robin Blackburn, the words “the hireling and slave” allude to the fact that the British attackers had many freed slaves in their ranks. They were promised liberty, and they demanded to be placed in the battle line “where they might expect to meet their former masters.” In other words, Key was saying that the blood of all the former slaves and “hirelings” on the battlefield will wash away the pollution of their uppity fight for freedom against their masters.

    After the defense of Fort McHenry, the War of 1812 came to a close — Britain had defeated France in Europe and did not care to bother further with the Americans. If the United States had not won the War of 1812, it had not lost it either. Americans were free — “white” Americans, that is.


    Key fitted his words to a popular English drinking club song called, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” His name spread throughout the United States because of the popularity of “the Star Spangled Banner.” The song was sung everywhere, though it would not formally be adopted as the national anthem of the United States for another century. By that time, the racist, pro-slavery third stanza was forgotten – whitewashed from most history books.

    In 1833, President Jackson rewarded Key with the office of District Attorney. Key had reached a pinnacle of the political power. But it was in a time of trouble in the United States. In the 1830s, small groups of Americans, white and black, started calling for the immediate abolition of slavery. For some Americans, this was a threatening message. In 1835 alone, the 25 states experienced no less than 53 riots, almost all related to issues of race. Most involved attacks by mobs of white men on free blacks and white anti-slavery speakers.

    The violence of the summer of 1835 forged a new notion in American life, at least in the northern states: that defending the republic required opposing the slave masters of the south. At the beginning of the year, there had been 200 anti-slavery societies across the northern tier of the country. By the end, 527. By 1837, there were 1,000.

    Key personally prosecuted a controversial case against a slave, Arthur Bowen, which he won, and then went after the Bowen’s supporters. He wanted to reestablish law and order in the nation’s capital and protect the white man’s right to own property in people. The constitution, in Key’s view, required no less.

    In the spring of 1836, Key also brought charges against Reuben Crandall, a New York doctor who had brought abolitionist pamphlets to Washington. To Key’s dismay, the courtroom debate in U.S. v. Reuben Crandall crystallized how new ideas of rights introduced by the free people of color and their white allies had galvanized popular thinking in the mid-1830s. The anti-slavery movement had forced three radical ideas into the realm of American politics: no property in people, multiracial citizenship and the freedom to advocate for both.

    The audacity of those ideas was effective. In the 1820s, the organized anti-slavery movement in the United States was still very much on the margins. The idea of immediate emancipation caught on in 1830. In the next five years, the abolitionists managed to establish Washington City as a battlefield for their cause by calling for the abolition of slavery in the nation’s capital. From 1838 to 1839, the 25th U.S. Congress received almost 1,500 petitions signed by more than 100,000 people. Eighty percent supported the abolition of slavery in the capital. The tide would not be stemmed.

    Francis Scott Key lost his bid to discredit the antislavery movement in the court of public opinion. The jury acquitted Crandall of all charges. The defeat and family tragedies in 1835 sapped Key’s ambition. He resigned from the district attorney’s job in 1840, but remained a keen advocate of African colonization and sharp opponent of the antislavery movement. He died in January 1843.

    Key’s life attests to the complicated and contradictory stances of American white-supremacy of the time. The country would go on — and still goes on — to experience how very difficult it is to have a “land of the free and home of the brave.”

    After the war, most of the African-American freedom fighters lived free in Canada and Trinidad. About 2000 settled in Nova Scotia and about 400 settled in New Brunswick. Black Refugees in Nova Scotia were first housed in the former prisoner of war camp on Melville Island, which became an immigration facility after the War of 1812. From Melville Island, they moved to settlements around Halifax and in the Annapolis Valley. Other black refugees were settled in Trinidad, most having served in the Corps of Colonial Marines, but including around 200 from Louisiana and East and West Florida. The community in Trinidad became known as Merikins and their company villages still exist.

    The Black Refugees make up the largest single source of ancestors for Black Nova Scotians and formed the core of African Nova Scotian communities and churches that still exist today. Large numbers of Black Refugees settled in North and East Preston, Nova Scotia, communities still occupied today by their descendents.

    Many other Black refugees settled in smaller communities such as Hammonds Plains, Beechville, Windsor and communities throughout the Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. Some Black Refugee families moved closer to Halifax for employment opportunities in the 1840s, forming the Halifax community of Africville.

    The migration included the religious leader and abolitionist Richard Preston and the parents of William Hall, one of Canada’s first winners of a Victoria Cross.

    In total, about 4000 Africans escaped the United States’ barbaric slavery society into protection of the British by way of the Royal Navy. This was the largest emancipation of African Americans prior to the end of the American Civil War.


    Of the song’s original four stanzas, only the first is sung today, but its disturbing history remains.

    Is this really the song and composer and war the United States really wants to commemorate in its national anthem?

    Do its military leaders and public officials really want to punish people for opposing racism and slavery by not standing up for a gory, morbid, white-supremacist ballad?

    • Since the National Anthem and its author and the war that inspired it were all intertwined with the white-supremacist governments of the United States, and the brutal enslavement of other human beings for profit, another question is, “What forces lead to the civil war to change this?” As was noted, the wave of Abolitionism crested in the Northern states in the year 1835, and crashed onto the nation’s capitol. Francis Scott Key was unable to stop it. But how did that wave get started in the first place? Well some of that history is connected to Hawaii and to the events of the early 1800s.


      Henry ʻŌpūkahaʻia (circa 1792–1818) was born at Ka`ū on the island of Hawai`i in 1792. His name was usually spelled Obookiah during his lifetime. At the age of 10, his family was murdered by Hawaiian warriors.

      In 1807, after Connecticut sea Captain Caleb Britnall took him aboard the Triumph, the teenage boy had his first English lessons en route to New Haven along with fellow Hawaiian cabin boy Thomas Hopu. As a student there and in neighboring areas, he was looked after in a succession of homes, and worked summers to help earn his keep. Reverend Edwin W. Dwight, a senior in Yale College, met him in 1809, when he discovered`Ōpūkaha`ia sitting on the steps of the college. When `Ōpūkaha`ia lamented that “No one give me learning,” Dwight agreed to help him find tutoring.

      `Ōpūkaha`ia took up residence with one of Dwight’s relative, Yale president Timothy Dwight IV, a founder of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, who instructed him in Christian and secular subjects. He had studied English grammar and the usual curriculum in public schools by the time he converted to Christianity in 1815, during the Second Great Awakening.

      ʻŌpūkahaʻia is credited with starting Hawaii’s conversion to Christianity. Many know that he inspired American Protestant missionaries to come to the islands in 1820. He had planned to go with them, but died unexpectedly a year before the departure. There is, however, a part of the story few know about – ʻŌpūkahaʻia helped to end three centuries of abominable slavery in the United States of America.

      A recent biography, “The Providential Life & Heritage of Henry Obookiah: Why Did Missionaries Come to Hawai’i from New England and Tahiti” by Christopher L Cook, has revealed that ʻŌpūkahaʻia had also inspired a pair of the country’s leading New England Abolitionists, when this brother and sister were still children. As a student in Cornwall, Connecticut, ʻŌpūkahaʻia and Hopu, often dined with the family of Harriet Beecher Stowe, when the future author was a child. Harriet’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), depicted the harsh life for African Americans under slavery. In explaining her work, she showed her commitment to equality:

      “That the dirtiest and most uneducated foreigner or American, with breath redolent of whisky, and clothes foul and disordered, should have an unquestioned right to take a seat next to any person in a railroad-car or steam-boat, and that the respectable, decent, and gentlemanly negro, should be excluded simply because he is a negro, cannot be considered otherwise than as an irrational and unchristian thing; and any Christian who allows such things done in his presence without remonstrance and the use of his Christian influence, will certainly be made deeply sensible of his error when he comes at last to direct and personal interview with his Lord.”

      As a novel and play, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” reached millions and became influential in the United States and Great Britain. It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. When she met Abraham Lincoln in 1862, he reportedly greeted her by saying, “so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

      Harriet’s younger brother, Henry Ward Beecher, became a preacher who was at the forefront of many social issues of his day, most notably abolition. In his widely reprinted piece “Shall We Compromise”, he assailed the Compromise of 1850 that strengthened the Fugitive Slave Act; Beecher objected to the last provision in particular, arguing that it was a Christian’s duty to feed and shelter escaped slaves. Slavery and liberty were fundamentally incompatible, Beecher argued, making compromise impossible: “One or the other must die”.

      In 1856, Beecher campaigned for abolitionist John C. Frémont. During the pre-Civil-War conflict in the Kansas Territory, known as “Bloody Kansas”, Beecher raised funds to send Sharps rifles to abolitionist forces, stating that the weapons would do more good than “a hundred Bibles”. The press subsequently nicknamed the weapons “Beecher’s Bibles”. Beecher became widely hated in the American South for his abolitionist actions and received numerous death threats.

      In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln sent Beecher on a speaking tour of Europe to build support for the Union cause. Beecher’s speeches helped turn European popular sentiment against the rebel Confederate States of America and prevent its recognition by foreign powers.

      At the close of the war in April 1865, Beecher was invited to speak at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, where the first shots of the war had been fired; Lincoln had again personally selected him, stating:

      “We had better send Beecher down to deliver the address on the occasion of raising the flag because if it had not been for Beecher there would have been no flag to raise.”

      Following the Civil War, Beecher became a leader in the women’s suffrage movement. In 1867, he campaigned unsuccessfully to become a delegate to the New York Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868 on a suffrage platform, and in 1869, was elected unanimously as the first president of the American Woman Suffrage Association. Beecher was also a prominent advocate for allowing Chinese immigration to continue to the US, helping to delay passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act until 1882.

      Theologically, Beecher mainly taught the power of Christ’s love:

      “It is Love the world wants. Higher than morality, higher than philanthropy, higher than worship, comes the love of God. That is the chiefest thing.”

      This attitude did not reflect his father’s stern Calvinism, so where did it come from? In an 1887 sermon at the end of his life, Beecher suggests that it may have came from Aloha:

      “I am what I am because Henry Obookiah, from the Sandwich Islands, was taught at the Cornwall School in Connecticut, and in my boyhood came down to my father’s house, and produced an impression on me which has undulated, and propagated, and gone on influencing me. Some of the enthusiasm which I have felt for moral conditions came to me from seeing him.”

      So, it appears that ʻŌpūkahaʻia had not only inspired the Christian mission to Hawaii, he had also influenced two young New Englanders (brother and sister) who went on to lead the anti-slavery movement as adults. Lyman Beecher, the father of Harriet and Henry gave the sermon at the funeral of ʻŌpūkahaʻia on February 18, 1818:

      “Nor are we compelled to believe, that this usefulness will terminate with his life, or that the immediate consequences of his death, will be calamitous. His death will give notoriety to this institution — will awaken a tender sympathy for Owhyhee, and give it an interest in the prayers and charities of thousands who otherwise had not heard of this establishment, or been interested in its prosperity.

      “Let there be no despondency, then, indulged by the members of this agency, or the board under whose patronage we act, or by the churches of our Lord, who favour this institution. These clouds, and this darkness, announce the presence, but not the displeasure, of our God.

      “Had no disappointments intervened, our work had lacked the immemorial testimony of the Divine approbation. Instead of being appalled by the darkness, we are cheered by it; instead of fainting under the stroke, we are animated by it, to double confidence in God, and double diligence in this work, forasmuch as we know, that our labour is not vain in the Lord.”

      `Ōpūkaha`ia had been desperate to return home himself to preach, but had contracted typhus fever and died in 1818 in Cornwall at the age of 26. Still, the small seeds he planted began to grow. When “The Memoirs of Henry Obookiah” were published few months after his death, his words inspired the donations used to fund the mission to Hawaii. He also inspired some to give much more.

      Because they felt his vibrant presence in the Memoirs, men and women who never knew `Ōpūkaha`ia in the flesh volunteered to carry his message after his death. In fact, of the fourteen Americans who sailed in the Thaddeus, only Samuel Ruggles had ever met `Ōpūkaha`ia face to face. All the others were motivated by his words. Daniel Chamberlain and his wife were moved by the Memoirs to offer themselves as missionaries. It was the talk that the book stirred among Yale undergraduates that made Samuel Whitney, a sophomore, decide to forego further study and apply at once for a place in the mission company. Elisha Loomis, printer’s apprentice in the frontier town of Canandaigua, New York, would never have heard of `Ōpūkaha`ia had he had not chanced upon a copy of the Memoirs. Loomis would venture to Hawaii and here he would water another of Henry’s seeds.

      Many don’t know that despite his untimely death, `Ōpūkaha`ia was also instrumental in preserving the Hawaiian language, and in the wave of literacy that swept the islands and helped establish an internationally recognized nation. Before his death, Henry had learned Hebrew, had translated the Book of Genesis into Hawaiian, and had nearly completed a Hawaiian dictionary, grammar, and spelling book. The Hawaiians and missionaries who left Boston in October 1819 worked to complete his dictionary during their long voyage, and used it upon their arrived as the foundation for spreading the written Hawaiian language. Loomis was guided by Henry’s dictionary as he put Hawaiian to print.


      See: “The Providential Life & Heritage of Henry Obookiah: Why Did Missionaries Come to Hawai’i from New England and Tahiti” by Christopher L Cook

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up