The American National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, is easily recognizable to anyone who has seen at least two NFL Super Bowls. The song espouses the American values of freedom and bravery and illustrates the fighting spirit and courage that made this country an independent nation. In my lifetime, the National Anthem has been relegated to the opening of sporting events (and gold medal placement at the Olympics). And every year, the NFL holds the (world’s?) biggest sporting event: the Super Bowl. The singing of the national anthem is always a big deal and the musician / star selected to do so is quite well known or famous.
But at the Super Bowl, the Star Spangled Banner seems like just part of the show. Its packaged, its scripted, its overly rehearsed. The singing of the National Anthem on the country’s largest stage, always seems to fall short of generating the real swell of pride or emotion it is supposed to.
Two times in my life I’ve been moved to tears by our country’s national anthem. Neither was a Super Bowl. The first was sung by one woman, in the middle of a wrestling ring, performing for 16,000 Texans, and 25 men in tights. But it was at a time when the nation needed to hear it most. The most recent was sung by 16,000+ Bostonians in a genuine show of spontaneity and patriotism, again, at a time when the country needed to hear it.
Two days after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, the Boston Bruins returned home to the TD Bank Garden. Singer, Rene Rancourt had the honor of singing the National Anthem at a time when certainly Boston, and maybe America, needed to hear it. In a sports world that has become more prepackage and scripted in every form of its presentation, this was a genuine moment. Mr. Rancourt started the song off “Oh say can see, by the dawns early light? What so proud…” and that was it. The Boston crowd, in an exemplary moment of unity, carried the song, the emotion, and the strength of an entire nation as we all mourned together.
September 11th 2001 was the most horrific act of terrorism, and the most fatal acts of war ever perpetrated on American soil. Americans were scared, angry, hurting, and mournful. The attack, undoubtedly, changed America, and the world forever. September 12th, then President, George W Bush implored the American people to try to return to life as normal.
World Wrestling Entertainment’s Vincent Kennedy McMahon is a lot of things to a lot of people, but one thing that can not be disputed is Vincent Kennedy McMahon loves America. The September 13th 2001 SMACKDOWN episode was the first mass public gathering since September 11th. What better way to open the show than with the National Anthem for the country and the world to witness. Men like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, who made their living by portraying themselves as tough guys, showed real emotion for the moment.
Are there any genuinely important performances of our National Anthem we are overlooking?