Friday’s College Bowl games provided with another thrill this year and it had nothing to do with football. I love the bowl games and the Super Bowl and, in fact, any major event, because we often get stirring renditions of our National Anthem.
Sure, sometimes famous artists butcher our national song in failed attempts to do something great, but I never begrudge their effort.
The last game of New Year’s Day 2010, the (Who-the Hell-Cares Who Sponsors-It) Sugar Bowl provided the best of the day and maybe the best I’ve seen in quite a while. Lady Antebellum, of whom I’ve never heard before, did a fantastic and moving a cappella version of The Star Spangled Banner . To give full credit, I must also applaud whoever decided to actually launch four rockets when the threesome arrived at, “And the rockets red glare.” The crowd loved it and it sent a chill through my spine.
What I love about the song is not just how it moves me, but how it seems to move everyone in attendance. The cheers during the song isn’t limited to the home team’s fans. There are no boos (hockey fans…save it, I know). It isn’t Democrats or Republicans. It isn’t whites or blacks. Cheers emanate from all corners of the stadium, society, and demographics. The cheering and the applause always remind me that there is so much more that unites us as Americans than there is that divides us. When the palaver dies away and the angst-laden diatribes evaporate what is left is a citizenry that loves this country.
I love that the National Anthem is played before sporting events because it reminds us all that as divided partisans in the coming competition, there is something bigger that bonds us together. I wish it were played before (and probably after, too) every political debate, every talk show, every event in which our differences can mistakenly take center stage.
[Ed note: If you have a favorite version of the National Anthem, please email it to me—or better yet, a link to where I can see it—at KickingTheAnthill@gmail.com. For one of my all time favorites, see Ray Charles sing America the Beautiful before the Sugar Ray Leonard/Roberto Duran fight in New Orleans, November 25, 1980. .]