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friday night a church member and i went to the rangers vs. astros game. my new home team was playing the team i grew up loving (and still do). the rangers won (woo-hoo!). yesterday the astros won (woo-hoo!). you see my concern... tonight the whole family is going to see who will win the series and the coveted "silver boot." the players look forward to winning that boot more than anything! yeah right...

friday night was draped in drama. before the game the "leap frogs" parachuting team dropped five guys onto the playing field. then someone sang "texas our texas," followed by "the star-spangled banner," sung by the fans, not an individual. by the way: why do we sing the national anthem before ball games? i heard once the tradition was started during world war II, but why has it continued? what is that all about? do our sports have something to do with our national identity? nope. something to think about.

following the national anthem, there was a fly-over. four fighter jets flew in from the center field area and went right over our heads, behind home plate. this is another odd thing. what is the deal with fly-overs at sporting events? are there military undertones to double plays and home runs? is this a radical means of crowd control (there were lots of astros fans there friday!)? i've been to lots of games over the years, some with fly-overs, and they never cease to be a major crowd-pleaser. something about the roaring of military engines overhead that makes us say, "that's way cool!"

this was the first time i could remember when i did not have such a sensation. instead, i thought about places around the world where folk experience fly-overs on a daily basis, and they are not filled with excitement and awe. some of those planes are ours, in places like baghdad and afghanistan; others hear that rumbling and do not know whose planes they are, whether they should cheer in national pride or fearfully run for cover, not knowing what is coming next.

i don't know if there will be a fly-over tonight. part of me hopes there will be, because the boys would think it was so cool. then it would be a teaching moment for us. another part of me, however, says no. keep them at the neighboring base, or wherever they are housed. do not ever use them unless absolutely necessary, and never to show off our military might. after all, it's only a game. go rangers! go astros!

p.s. after posting this, i discovered this excellent article by frank deford:


Anonymous said…
I really like the new layout. Much easier to read.
elliott said…
Dear Frank,

What a coincidence that I was at the same game on Friday! Funny, the last game that I attended was the day I was baptized by you at OLUMC (4/7/02)!

These days, where else does one hear the Star Spangled Banner sung? In the 1950's, every public school day began with Bible reading, pledge of allegiance and Lord's prayer! Does repetition trivialize or emphasize?? Even if not taken to heart every time, it conveys and reaffirms a needed common ground, which has been eroded away in the name of relativism, pluralism and even 'tolerance'.

Even more rarely heard than the familiar (but fading from national consciousness) first verse is the 4th or last verse of our national anthem.

We just visited Ft.McHenry (in the midst of the recent flooding rains) last week and saw the verses penned by Francis Scott Key on the night of the 1814 bombardment of the fort guarding the sea approach to Baltimore:

"Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

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