Last Thursday I arrived at the stadium at Windham High School moments before the varsity boys soccer team started their game. I was still walking to the bleachers when everyone stood for the National Anthem. I always like to see what happens when the music begins to play. Would the people walking in front of me stop, would people take off their hats and put their hands over their hearts?
On that day there were many teams practicing on the fields around the stadium. The football teams were loud as they ran their drills. The night was full of fall excitement, the smells from the snack bar made my mouth water and I was excited to watch the game.
What happened next would make my friend Fred Collins very proud.
I stopped in my spot as the patriotic music played. I faced the flag and put my hand over my heart. I glanced around and everyone had stopped. The music echoed across the fields and then I realized that the football players had all stopped. I lifted my sunglasses with my free hand to get a better look.
The entire football practice had stopped what they were doing and turned to face the flag. The birds chirped in time with the music and I got goosebumps.
This is the America I love, the one worth fighting for. This is where we come together as a nation, republican, democrat, black, white, gay, straight, we all stand and salute the flag of our country together.
When an entire town within hearing distance of that song stops to show respect, that is not a night I will soon forget. The team may have lost, but in the end the memory of that game will be more about the minutes before the game, then the actual game.
The playing of the National Anthem isn’t required as far as I know, but it’s an amazing tradition that I’m glad Windham participates in. It says to anyone visiting our town that “We are Windham, but most importantly, we are Americans.”