They're playing our National Anthem.
Now, maybe at this point you're thinking, "Awww. She really loves America. Isn't that sweet that she's patriotic?" I do enjoy lots of the freedoms afforded me here, but that's not what tugs at my heart. It starts, and I look at that flag, and the thoughts in my head go something like this:
"Oh say can you see? Yes. I can see. I see stars and stripes. I see the red stripes that remind me of the blood and the limbs lots of young men and women have sacrificed to protect people they love, and people they don't even know. People like that jerk three rows down who won't even remove his cap to honor the memory of someone's kid that died so he could have the right to say whatever stupid thing comes to his mind. People like the old guys who served in wars long before these kids on this field were even born, and remember their buddies whose bodies were too destroyed to make the trip home from places like Korea and VietNam.
I see the flag that hung in the room when my own sons pledged to uphold and defend this country of ours with their lives, and I thank GOD with every cell of my being that the ultimate price has not been required of them. I thank God that Spencer and Jordan and Nick and Jake, Arlea and Adam, and so many others have returned home safely, after travelling again and again to far off lands full of people who wish them harm because of that FLAG and what it stands for.
I think of my own son, Jordan, playing in the band for troop returns, and how he would play this very song as they unloaded the coffins of those young men and women killed in the line of duty. I think of Mrs. Little, and Mrs. Polasek, and how devastated they must have been when they received the news that their sons were gone. I pray for those families.
"Oh say, does that star-spangled Banner yet wave?" Yes. It does, over the land of the free. We are free, and it comes at a terrible cost. As I listen to the song (unable to sing, because I'm way too choked up) I look at the athletes gathered for this sporting event. These young ladies are getting ready to play volleyball. How many of them will serve, or have sons and daughters who serve? What about these fellas on the football field. This one wants to be a Marine. I've seen how they defend their quarterback. I know they understand a team, and know they would protect their battle buddies the same way. I pray for their safety. I pray for safety of their minds, bodies, and souls.
"...And the Home of the Brave." It may just be two wordy questions posed by Francis Scott Key, but it's so much more than just a song to me. I am reminded of the many times that flag has been sought after a battle, and the desire of those warriors to return to their home, the home of the brave. I pray they all return to their homes and friends and families.
This is what true bravery looks like:
"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13)