NEW BREMEN — Fans in attendance of the Cincinnati Reds game against the Washington Nationals on Friday were greeted with a different announcement before the national anthem.
“Ladies and gentlemen, at this time we ask that you please remove your caps, place your right hand over your heart and face the American flag,” the announcer told fans at the game.
The addition of “place your right hand over your heart” was made after New Bremen Middle School students in Angie Niemeyer’s class exchanged a series of e-mails with the team about the importance of the civilian salute. The students had spent the first half of the school year researching and creating a video about the civilian salute and have since continued to educate others about its importance.
The students began by approaching schools close to home.
“When we were researching, we sent the info to the athletic director and changed the announcement at sporting events,” Claire McClurg said.
After making a change locally, the sixth-grade students focused on a bigger scale. Jane Homan said the idea to contact the Reds came after their teacher attended a game.
“Mrs. Niemeyer went to a Reds game and noticed that not all the players did the civilian salute,” she said.
The students then compiled their research to send to Cincinnati Reds Director of Promotional Events Zach Bonkowski, asking that “place your right hand over your heart” be added to the announcement.
“They said they have been doing research themselves and were trying to do what we have done in New Bremen for the baseball teams,” Hunter Drewes said.
After several e-mails were exchanged with Bonkowski, “place your right hand over your heart” was added to the announcement for the first time at the May 11 game. Bonkowski told the students he wanted to see how the fans reacted to the addition to the announcement. After the game, the students were told the team will continue to keep “place your right hand over your heart” in the announcement for now.
In addition to the change they were able to make with the Reds, the students also took a national approach to spreading their message about the civilian salute.
“Before we contacted the Reds, Paige sent a letter to the president,” Tara Berning said, noting that he sent a letter and a few pictures back that are now on display in the classroom.
Ashley Bowers noted the president had a positive reaction to the students’ work.
“The president was inspired by our enthusiasm,” she said.
After all their hard work, the students said they were pleased with what they had been able to accomplish.
“I feel proud of our grade for starting a chain reaction at the Reds, and it might spread to other teams across the United States,” Lilly Hirschfeld said.
Emily Bertke said she was also proud of their accomplishments.
“I feel proud that our video from a small town has made a difference,” she said.
Katie Paulus noted it was nice to have made a difference.
“It feels good that we’ve made a difference to a lot of people,” Katie said. “The video has over 2,000 hits, so we’ve made a difference to 2,000 people.”
Lexi Blaine said the project has taught the students to be proactive.
“We learned that we can make a difference and to be proactive about the civilian salute because it’s important,” Lexi said.
In the future, the students plan to continue to educate others about the importance of the civilian salute.
“I’m hoping that even when I get to seventh and eighth grade, we can keep it going on,” Adrienne Laughmar said.
Classmate Joe Maurer also hopes to continue spreading the word.
“It’s important to keep passing it on to other people as we get older,” he said.
The video that the students created, which has been watched more than 2,600 times, can be viewed at http://Youtube.com/watch?v=v7bHeqb4Pbg or search “New Bremen Civilian Salute” on YouTube.com.