Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Vince Maranto on 09/11/11 at 01:33 PM ET
Since today is September 11, it seemed like a good time to tell every one where I stand on what has, from time to time, been an issue of controversy regarding Blackhawk home games. I am referring to, of course, the way Hawks fans react to the singing of the National Anthem. I was reminded of this today due to the fact that Jim Cornelison, the Hawks Anthem singer, will be performing the Anthem at Soldier Field today for the Chicago Bears game. For those who don’t know what I am referring to, at every game Jim stands on the ice next to 2 or 3 veterans from the U.S. military. From the opening note of The Star Spangled banner, the entire crowd begins to clap and cheer. This has been going on for quite some time—watch below the National Anthem on from the 1991 All Star game if you want a pretty good example. This nationally televised game, which occurred just days after the war started in the Persian Gulf, was a lot of Americans first exposure to this tradition. (Note; Wayne Messmer was the Hawks public address announcer and singer at that time).
I have heard and read that this practice is disrespectful, rude, and every other thing that you can think of. I can assure you, what ever you “interpretation” of this event is, disrespect is the opposite of the intention. When the veterans are introduced at the beginning, the cheering is just as loud. As Jim sings, when you see the close up of the vets as they listen to the crowd singing and cheering, look closely. Their hands (while saluting the flag) are usually a little shaky and tears can often be noticeably seen welling up in their eyes. Ask them if they feel disrespected, if you’re so concerned.(As another note, when other veterans are introduced during the game, a loud standing ovation always follows).
What I found to be interesting also, was this. When the Hawks brought the Cup to Wrigley Field during the Cubs / White Sox cross town rivalry, inter league game, Jim sang the Anthem. As several of my friends were there in attendance said, they have never heard the place louder. The same reaction was felt when the Cup came to Sox Park (the Cell, if you will) and Soldier Field last year for the NFC Championship game.
I, for one, could not be prouder or feel more patriotic when I am at the game, watching it on TV, or listening to it on the radio. You can keep your National Anthems where some American Idol wannabe is using the song as an audition piece. There is nothing more aggravating than listening to some singer alter notes, and add extra syllables to the song, while the crowd patiently waits for it to be over. Jim sings it straight forward, no playing around. When I’m listening to the game at home or in the car I turn up my TV or my radio! How many other people in other cities can say that. To me, that’s the ultimate in respect.
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