I am proud to be an American. I always have been. Always will be. I love that our nation is constructed with checks and balances to be able to correct itself at any time. We have the freedom of speech that protects our right to speak out when we see wrongs. And we have the freedom of the press to report the wrongs, and draw attention to them. Of course, we also enjoy the Freedom of George Michael. And the Freedom Overspill of Steve Winwood. But those are less popular freedoms. Maybe because those guys are non-Americans.
There are holidays that make me proud to be an American. President’s Day, MLK Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. These are all great days, to reflect on our country and our Americanism.
But my favorite American moment didn’t fall on any of those red, white and blue holidays. It didn’t happen while slurping cranberry sauce, or during a President’s Day car sale. So, as Betsy Ross used to ask, when the flag was it?
Some Of My Favorite American Moments
I have had thousands of proud moments as an American. While I don’t have them all ranked, here are some worthy of mention.
- Watching veterans march down Main Street during a 4th of July Parade
- Watching the Miracle On Ice on TV at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.
- Watching everything at the 1984 Olympics (Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mary Lou Retton, Joan Benoit)
- Standing at the base of the Statue of Liberty
- Listening to America, Ef-Yeah, during the movie Team America. World Police.
- Standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon
- My first voting experience when I turned 18
- Watching Lee Greenwood’s God Bless The USA music video
September 11, 2001
September 11th, 2001 was a dark day for America. It knocked us down as a nation is a way that I had never thought America could be knocked down. It was like when Mike Tyson got knocked out by Buster Douglas, and Iron Mike was so out of it he couldn’t even operate his own mouthguard.
In the days following the attack, everything in America stopped. It was a very strange time. Like 2020. Then, like now, sporting events were canceled or postponed. The world seemed to be off its axis.
Back to Live Sports
On Saturday, September 29, 2001, I attended a University of Wisconsin football game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. It was the first home game for the Badgers since the attacks of September 11. And it was the first time Badger fans had gathered en masse post 9/11.
My All-Time Favorite Moment As An American
Before the game started the crowd stood for the national anthem. I have been to hundreds of sporting events. And I have heard the national anthem sung thousands of times. But this time was different.
The moment the national anthem began there was an explosion in the stadium. It wasn’t a bomb or a fireworks display. It was the crowd itself. Singing the national anthem. Everyone in the stadium was belting out the song as if it was our school fight song. It was loud and proud and like nothing I had ever heard before.
We were all all-in that day. It was the kind of experience that gives you chills and makes you want to cry in the best way possible. I think of that experience every time the national anthem is sung at a public event.
The past 6 months have been difficult for Americans. The Covid-19 health crisis, the ensuing economic crisis and isolation have been unimaginable. Then, on May 25th, my birthday, George Floyd was killed publicly, and senselessly. Which has inspired demands for change, justice and equality. It has sparked protests, demonstrations, riots and long-overdue conversation. Cities like Chicago, Kenosha, Minneapolis and Portland have been deeply scarred and charred as a result.
Today, on the 19-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, my hope is that when we gather again for sporting events, graduation ceremonies, and American celebrations that we once again sing the National Anthem, the way it should be sung. Loud. Proud. Together.
The National Anthem is a symbol of our unity, our hope, and our belief that no matter what we face, we will make it through, together. The banner will still wave. It is an inspiring sight to see. It stands as the greatest symbol of this nation of ours that is still a work in progress. But capable of getting better all the time.
Cue Lee Greenwood.