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Soaking in an anthemic moment

February 07, 2011|By Gary Huerta

When I found out a couple of months ago that I had been chosen by my employer to attend the Super Bowl, I felt honored. The trip is bestowed upon select dealers and employees the company believes has shown dedication and effort over the course of the year.

For me personally, it was a chance to witness something that I have always held among the most emotional moments in all of sports — the playing of our national anthem before the Super Bowl.

I am not talking about the song that is played before every baseball, hockey and basketball game, or the one played before high school assemblies. I am talking about the version of the star-spangled spectacle that superstars sing before the biggest football game of the year.

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There are probably a lot of sports fanatics out there who, in their fervor to have their team hoist the trophy, don’t think much of “The Star Spangled Banner.” To many, it’s merely the last obstacle that stands between them and their desire to watch their favorite linebacker pummel the opposing quarterback.

For me, the song is a deeply moving moment. Not because I’m some kind of patriotic zealot, but because I believe it is the pinnacle moment for every participant in the game. To use a well-worn cliché, it is their shining moment.

Every player on both sides of the field has dedicated their entire life to reaching that singular goal of playing on the ultimate stage. There is no winner and no loser during the national anthem. They are all equal in their accomplishment. And as the camera pans across the faces of those players, I imagine what it must be like to be the one standing there thinking, “I have made it. This is exactly where I told myself I would be, and I am right here, right now.” It must be quite an incredible experience.

Never mind that this year’s version of the song was a tad botched by Christina Aguilera. Almost everyone I was standing with in that stadium knew something wasn’t quite right with one of the lyrics she was belting out. It didn’t matter. There was no group revolt. No one felt any real compulsion to express their immediate disdain with sarcastic hisses.

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