you ever heard as many as 58,000 people sing "God Bless America" at
one time? All you needed to do was tune in to the seventh inning of
any professional baseball game after the Sept. 11 tragedies. That
anthem replaced the light-hearted "Take Me Out To The Ball Game,"
sung by crowds for decades.
Yet the impact was felt no less at Newburgh Free
Academy last month, when nearly 1,000 people sang during halftime
of a football game. Or at any other high school sporting event throughout
moments of silence meant the same at Giants Stadium as they did at
Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
The American flag stitched on the back of professional
uniforms brought out the same national pride as the American flag
painted on the face of a Warwick teenager.
High school, college and professional playing fields
were empty for up to a week following the attacks. Much of the innocence
was gone, though, when play resumed.
We used to arrive early at professional football
games so we could grab a program and buy a couple of hot dogs before
settling into our seats.
We now arrive early at professional football games
so our bags can be prodded by bomb-sniffing dogs, our radios checked
for security before settling into our seats.
Trying to get a car into West Point, where America's
future military leaders are trained, is like going through an Indianapolis
500 pit stop.
The playing field is the same since Sept. 11. But
those of us gathered around it may never be the same again.
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