Fact Check: The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Did NOT Turn Their Backs On WWII Vet Playing National Anthem On His Harmonica

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Did NOT Turn Their Backs On WWII Vet Playing National Anthem On His Harmonica Faced Flag

Did the U.S. Women's National Soccer team turn their back on a WWII vet playing the national anthem on his harmonica? No, that's not true: Most of the players on the team had turned to face the American flag, a tradition during the national anthem, while a few faced forward as the song was played. None of them turned their back on Pete DuPré, 98, while he played "The Star Spangled Banner."

The claim appeared as a Facebook post (archived here) on July 5, 2021. It opens:

This is so disrespectful and infuriating!

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Jul 6 18:38:05 2021 UTC)

The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team played against Mexico on July 5, 2021, at the Pratt & Rentschler Field in Connecticut, according to USSoccer.com.

Neil Buethe, the chief communications officer for U.S. Soccer, disputed the claim that the women turned their backs on DuPré, in a July 6, 2021, email to Lead Stories:

Any claim that our U.S. Women's National Team players turned their back on WWII Veteran Pete DuPré during the anthem is 100 percent false. Some players were simply looking at the flag on a pole in one end of the stadium. The players have known Pete since 2019, have a deep respect for him, his military service and have truly embraced him as almost another member of the team. In Hartford specifically, they invited him out to training the day before, greeted him upon arrival to the stadium and then thanked him one-by-one after the game and even signed a ball for him.

Player Carli Lloyd also denied they turned their backs on the WWII vet.

Another player, Crystal Dunn, tweeted, "So proud," with a video of the team during the national anthem.

The team's official Twitter account posted a video of the team during the National Anthem, thanking DuPré, a longtime friend of the team, for his performance:

According to Military.com, it is protocol for nonmilitary members to face the flag while the national anthem is played:

(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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