Sunday was a filled with many appropriately solemn and somber tributes to those who perished on that horrific sunny morning ten years ago. I was moved to tears watching some of the wives and children of those who died in the World Trade Center read the names of their loved ones and I was even touched by President Clinton’s speech at the Flight 93 Memorial dedication on Saturday.
These were all very sad and serious moments as they ought to have been. Families are still grieving and many will never fully recover from the traumatic events of that day.
But as I was watching the Fox News coverage of the memorial events, they cut to Soldier Field in Chicago where the Bears were preparing to play the Atlanta Falcons.
A giant American flag was unfurled by a group of first responders to cover the entire field as the crowd cheered enthusiastically and chanted “U.S.A!” The roar only increased when players from both teams walked onto the field and helped to hold the flag up.
Then the crowd grew silent. Suddenly, the silence was shattered as tenor Jim Cornelison’s voice exploded with the opening notes of The Star Spangled Banner. Cornelison sang it the way it was meant to be sung – forcefully, defiantly, triumphantly. He left it all on the field, as they say.
The crowd continued to cheer throughout the song. Apparently, that is a tradition at Chicago sporting events when Cornelison is singing. I’m not a fan of disrespecting the flag (hats off guys!). I’m even downright offended when our Team USA Olympians can’t manage to mouth the words to the National Anthem when they’re on the medals podium. So I confess, I was a little uncomfortable with the protocol violation exhibited by the roaring crowd.
But my heart was in my throat when Cornelison hit the final note of the song. Somehow, this was needed on this day. We needed to show the world that the United States of America was displaying American pride and reveling in the triumph over terror and fear. And still playing football.
We needed this on 9/11/2011. It was a fitting end to an emotional weekend of memorial services and somber tributes.