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Sing out for the U.S. after Boston

Buffalo Sabres v BostBruins

Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins

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Fuzzy on the words? Here they are at

Updated: May 22, 2013 6:26AM

No doubt about it, watching — and listening — to video of the crowd in Boston sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Bruins game Wednesday night really tugged at our collective heartstrings.

There it was, the first sporting event in Boston after the terrible tragedy inflicted Monday on that city — and the rest of us. Tight security outside TD Garden. Inside, an anxious crowd ready for the emotional release of some hockey. Walking down your familiar streets and seeing law enforcement in hazmat jumpsuits can’t be easy.

Then in that darkened stadium the singing began, gaining strength as more and more voices joined in. Rene Rancourt, who has sung the national anthem at Bruins games since 1976, let the microphone drop to his side, gesturing for even more of the crowd of 17,000 to join in.

After seeing and hearing that, I just want to say, come on people, don’t stop now!

It bugs me big time that at most sporting events there I am with my hand over my heart singing enthusiastically and the majority of people in the stands aren’t. Sure, people are standing, but not paying attention, or worse, they’re playing with their cellphones. You can feel the impatient tolerance of the song that stands between them and the game. It takes great restraint for me not to holler, “Hey, didn’t your parents teach you better?”

Our national anthem plays a part in my memories of the evening before Sept. 11, 2001. It was a beautiful night, and my family and I were at a Cubs game. The national anthem began and as usual, not very many around us joined in. Then, after the horror of Sept. 11, things were better for a short time — people really sang — and I thought, oh, finally, people get it, they need to sing our song. But no, eventually the singing at games tapered off.

And as beautiful as the singing in Boston was, I could see that many generally left the vocals to Rancourt and weren’t familiar with proper protocol. Some seemed unsure where to look (in the direction of the flag, or the music if the flag isn’t present). One guy suddenly remembered, hey, gotta take off my hat. Those with their hand over their heart — as the U.S. Flag Code specifies — were few and far between.

Maybe it’s because I come from a family where many have served and some have died in our military that the idea of showing patriotism by singing the national anthem is ingrained in me. Or because I witnessed the ’60s, where people were killed all in the name of civil rights. Everyday people just like myself put their lives on the line and died for our freedoms. You can be damn sure I am going to be singing. Why the heck aren’t the rest of you?

If it’s because you’ve forgotten those poignant words, look them up, memorize them. For those of you who bring your little ones to your favorite sport so they will have the experience, can’t you also take time to teach them the proper behavior and to sing during our national anthem?

Once the pain of Boston subsides, don’t leave me singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” alone and off-key. Let your voice ring out loud and proud every chance you get. Why? For the simple reason because we can.

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