This I Believe
Our National Anthem
Our whole family is a one big Padres fan.
For those of you who don’t follow baseball, the Padres are San Diego’s National League baseball team.
The nights we are not at the game at Petco Park, we are taping the game on TV and watching it later as if it hadn’t already been played.
So I read with interest the newspaper article that there was controversy at the Park. A religious based social service organization was asking fans to boycott the Sunday afternoon game. The San Diego Gay Men’s chorus was to sing the National Anthem, and a California bank was sponsoring the fan give-away of floppy hats for kids under 14.
We called a friend to join us and I got ready for the game the night before. With straight edge and markers for the first time since the 1960’s, I painstakingly wrote my signs, a YMCA motto – “Everybody Plays, Everybody Wins”, that I particularly love, and – “Even the Friar Wears a Dress”, a sign to refer to the Padres mascot, who dresses in full cassock. Maybe they’d be seen on ESPN?
Game day arrived. Friends and family convinced me not to take the signs for fear that a fan seated nearby might not see things my way.
No sign of the boycotters at the gate. The stadium was filling up.
Last Sunday, the Padres wore camouflage uniforms, and the crowd cheered the Marines seated in the upper deck of the Park. In our city with three military bases, I wondered how many chorus members would not perform today, for to sing would be “to tell”.
The color guard assembled. I looked toward the soloist mike between home and third base and just a couple of people were standing there. Then three men in red uniforms ran between first and second base with three microphone stands and at the same time a line of men, dressed in khakis and white shirts, walked as one across the field and assembled behind the mikes. The crowd hushed.
And as the tenor voices soared “o’er the land of the free”, I felt, as my partner, Debbie, later said, that for the first time I had truly lived our national anthem.
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