Chicago’s National Anthem
Jim Cornelison to sing National Anthem Sunday at Soldier Field
Cornelison is the man passionately bringing an eardrum-shattering rendition of the Star Spangled Banner before Chicago Blackhawks games at the United Center, attempting to sing over loud cheers and constantly clapping hands. Active duty military personnel, men and women who endure endless months and years of combat, are brought to tears seeing our rendition of the National Anthem for Hawks games. The most incredible display of patriotism I have ever seen is ‘every night’ before a home ‘Hawks game.
Believe me there is nothing disrespectful about it, and no other sports franchise can duplicate it! Over 1 million YouTube hits since Sunday’s Bear – Seahawks game. The powerful, emphatic display of clapping and cheering during the national anthem is a Chicago Blackhawks tradition and puts a huge smile on my face; leaving me speechless with goosebumps every time I experience it. There is nothing wrong nor disrespectful of this Chicago tradition. In fact, it reinforces how great it is to be an American every time I participate in such an inspiring spectacle.
Chicago’s anthem tradition began during the 1985 conference finals against Edmonton. After dropping the first two games of the series on the road, Hawks fans entered the old Chicago Stadium on May 9 fully energized and ready to help their team get back into the series. The crowd was so excited they cheered all the way through the National Anthem — and the tradition stuck.
Obviously, the tradition is alive and well almost 25 years later and over time, the cheering has evolved into a new way to participate in the anthem and as a form of great patriotism. In 1991, Wayne Messmer sang the National Anthem at Chicago Stadium during the NHL All-Star game, days after the U.S. went into Iraq at the start of the Gulf War. This is what put this tradition “on the map” and its never changed since. Messmer is nearly drowned out by the crowd. That’s where the tradition really gained longevity. Please watch this ’91 NHL All-Star game video. Check out this thing of beauty:
Then, post- 9/11, the energy seemed to crank up another notch…as it did nearly everywhere that year. The flag and the anthem really rallied people then – and it hasn’t abated since. I clap, whistle and yell my little heart out. When I’m cheering I feel I’m part of the song rather than a simple observer of a moment. For those out of state, who have never witnessed this or been to a Hawks game, you might not understand – if you haven’t witnessed it yourself. In 2009, the Winter Classic was a nationally televised game with some of the biggest ratings the NHL had seen in years. The anthem was cited by many non-Chicagoans who attended as a highlight of the successful event.
It is rare to find 40,000 people in one place and at one time standing and reveling in pride, patriotism, and in honor of our country. At each singing of the National Anthem, there is an active-duty member of the Armed Forces in attendance and a veteran. In the middle of the second period of a Hawks game, the same people who are standing and cheering our country during our National Anthem, stand and cheer in honor for the members of the Armed Service in attendance at the game. Without fail at every game, everyone stands up and applauds them. This is patriotism at its best.
I thought it might be important to explain the context of its origin – since you will see it again Sunday on Fox during the Bear – Green Bay NFCCG game. Jim Cornelison will sing. The fans will clap and cheer. Don’t miss it. In fact, wherever you are, stand up and whistle, clap and cheer along.
But, don’t miss it.