I went to the Blackhawks game tonight. Unfortunately, they lost. However, while I was there -- and because it's been quite awhile since I've been to a live sporting event -- I was reminded of one of the little things that makes me shiver down to my knees and makes me downright happy:
Hearing The Star Spangled Banner sung live at a sporting event.
I know it's cheesy and all that. And yes, I am one of those people that sings along -- to myself. But there is something about an entire stadium full of thousands of people staring at the flag and a usually quite talented singer belting out the lyrics, everyone standing at full attention, cheering and clapping throughout, and those last few words hitting it "over the land of the free and the home of the brave!" followed by cheering and screaming and clapping that gets to me every time. At the United Center, it is something else, and quite the spectacle with the lights and the spotlights. (It's not quite the same at the Bears or Cubs games, maybe because they are outdoors.) I've honestly gotten teary over it before (as I usually do during the Olympics when our athletes are standing on the podium below the flag), because say what you want about living in the United States, but this is a fantastic place to live. I hate it when people say "there but for the grace of God go I," but that's how it is. It's a total crapshoot that I was born here instead of in a hut in Ethiopia, and as I've gotten older I've realized what a huge crapshoot that was and how truly lucky I am.
Our country is in a mess with government and spending and I complain about it all the time, but there is no place I would rather live. I was reminded of that tonight in that stadium. And to all of the people who want to bitch about what a terrible country this is and threaten to move? Go ahead! See what that's like. Me? I'll take the stars and stripes and be thankful I have the right to bitch about it on this blog. But really, the bitching is merely because I know we could be better, even though already we are pretty damn great.
Okay, I'll just get off my "Proud to Be An American" soapbox now.