As I sit here on a cold, snowy late Sunday night watching the 2014 Winter Olympics, I am reminded each time some word or set of words make my eyes look up at the 50 inch television securely bolted to my wall, (at least I hope it is) that I am extremely proud to be an American. Yes, I know what you’re thinking…this feeling does occur way more than just every four years, however, the gathering of the best athletes from across the globe tend to deepen the feeling of pride in my country. If I think about why that is for me, it is very easy to come up with the answer.
I was a mere eight years old, laying on the plush carpeted floor of my grandparents home in South St. Louis with a sofa pillow under my head watching tv. (This was my favorite way to watch the Zenith console that sat in the corner of the living room.) On that tv, there was a hockey game being played. In the room watching was my uncle, his best friend Danny, my grandpa and me…and every once in a while my grandma would briefly pop in to see what they were yelling about at different times of the game, then she’d go back to working endlessly on whatever she was doing to keep the house immaculate on the nights when she wasn’t taking care of patients at St. Mary’s Hospital or sitting in the parking lot next to the Donut Drive In listening to KMOX radio eating a freshly made glazed donut and sipping a coffee with my Aunt Suzie.
At the time, the game didn’t make much sense to me but I watched anyway and knew that I should cheer for the team with USA on the front of their jerseys. (I soon later came to realize that these beautiful garments were called sweaters in the hockey world) Anyway, being intrigued, I found myself becoming more and more interested in this particular game as I could feel the intensity in the room building much like the feeling of sitting in the Log Flume ride at Six Flags as it shook its way up the conveyor belt to the crest before it slid speedily down into a pool of water where you were sure to get soaked when your “plastic log” you were riding in hit the water.
I quickly became “drenched” (pun intended) in this game, from both the excitement of the action and the brief explanation from my uncle about the relevance of this particular game. How USA was supposed to have little to no chance at winning because of the experience and overwhelming talent of the Soviet hockey team. A team which very seldom lost. But this game was different.
Almost midway through the second period OUR team, made up of college hockey players from all across the country who had never played together before a few months prior to the tournament, found themselves tied with this Soviet powerhouse of professionals who had been winning hockey games handily for several years. Then, just a couple minutes later, the American “kids” took the lead. There were ten minutes left in the third period and I knew exactly what I was watching now. That last 10 minutes seemed like days…until the words from Al Michaels came through the speaker of that Zenith loud and clear, “…do you believe in miracles?! YES!!!” Immediately my grandfather, grandmother, uncle Bill, Danny and little old me hugged, high fived and jumped up and down like we all just won the lottery. But I believed then that this was better than any lottery…American pride flowed abruptly from home to home in this great country because of what had just taken place in a little town in New York.
Now, thirty years has passed since that fantastic game and it seems like the pride and love of country has diminished quite a bit. This one single game not only instilled in me the passion of ice hockey, it instilled in me to be forever proud and grateful to be an American and to not take one thing for granted. I’m not sure if winning the gold in this year’s ice hockey tournament will snap Americans out of the overwhelming lackadaisical mentality…but it would sure be fun to find out, wouldn’t it?
“We should be dreaming. We grew up as kids having dreams, but now we’re too sophisticated as adults, as a nation. We stopped dreaming. We should always have dreams.” -Herb Brooks
USA! USA! USA!