Last night I attended a Washington Nationals' baseball game only to miss getting to my seat in time for the national anthem. But as I was waiting outside the ballpark for my daughter to come, something magical happened out there on the street.
It's true that I have longed rushed to baseball, hockey and other sporting events just to be able to take part in the national anthem, standing there with my right hand placed over my heart. There's something incredibly moving to me about being with thousands of other people taking part in this civic tradition.
Standing outside Nationals Park last night with my wife and son, I kept wondering if we would make it to our seats on time. My family knows just how antsy I can get about this. But on this night, it was not meant to be.
Not a minute after my daughter arrived, I could hear the words of the anthem being sung, those first five words we all know: "Oh, say can you see..."
At that moment, I noticed that some people around me were standing in place, all still. I turned behind me, and my eyes went directly to a family of six, with kids ranging in age from teenagers on down to a five or six year old, each and all of them standing there erect, looking as if they were ready to take a family portrait. I turned back in front of me, and to my sides, and I could see literally hundreds of people, all of whom had just been swarming swiftly toward the gate, now all standing in place, too.
Some people had their right hand over their heart. Many had taken off their ball caps. And standing there amid the crowd, it was possible to hear whispers of folks singing the words to our national anthem.
Not a person in sight moved. Among the scores of people, I did not see a single individual attempt to go through a turnstile. There were young and old people, blacks, whites, Asians, and Hispanics, among others. There were women and men.
We all stood there, together. Have a good July 4th.