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Chicago’s National Anthem

January 19, 2011

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.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Jimmy permalink
    January 20, 2011 10:46 am

    You think this is respectful…What would I expect, you did give us the jack a$$ we have for a president.

    United States Code, 36 U.S.C. § 301, states that during a rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart; Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present and not in uniform may render the military salute; men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed. The national anthem is also played on U.S. military installations at the beginning of the duty day (0600) and at the end of duty day (1700). Military law requires all vehicles on the installation to stop when the song is played and all individuals outside to stand at attention and face the direction of the music and either salute, in uniform, or place the right hand over the heart, if out of uniform. Recently enacted law in 2008 allows military veterans to salute out of uniform, as well

  2. Todd Mahoney permalink
    January 24, 2011 12:11 pm

    As a US Marine, my feelings are that the display was disrespectful and a disgrace to the rememberance of the Marines who have fallen. For the most part, everyone can do as they wish, but when the United States Flag is Presented – silence has always been the norm. I’ve read the wikipedia explanation –

    This was not a Hockey Game against Canada – maybe the Bears fans thought it was, the players too. I was not impressed, but who cares what I think. I just served under that flag for 8 years including Desert Storm/Shield in 1990/1991. Semper Fi!

  3. Brad Gilles permalink
    January 27, 2011 6:40 am

    YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY WRONG! This is the most disrespectful act of sports fans that I have ever seen. Ask anyone outside of Chicago. It is unbelievable that this “tradition” has gone on for so long. Calling it tradition is not an excuse for this behavior. The “reveling in pride, patriotism, and honor of our country” happens in every stadium in our great country, but they have the respect and reverence to wait until after the song is finished.

  4. lynne permalink
    March 31, 2012 10:21 pm

    You do realize the problem is not with the clapping and cheering its with the disrespect of the flag. According to proper flag decorum according to US code it is required when the flag is being presented that your right hand be placed over your heart. If wearing a hat the to be held in such a way as the hat is at the shoulder and your hand over your heart in reverance. Thus preventing clapping,whistling and/or making loud disrespectful noises. Its also rude and as a member of a military family it is disrespectful to the memory and honor of the blood shed.

    • klsouth permalink*
      April 3, 2012 4:04 pm

      The clapping and cheering is for respect and appreciation of our soldiers who protect the flag and the flag itself. Uh, yes, I do realize. I live here.

    • klsouth permalink*
      April 3, 2012 4:33 pm

      Yes. I understand the proper flag decorum. This is a long-time Chicago tradition in a stadium that holds 40,0000 people. Hard to believe that 40,000 people are showing disrespect to the flag. Many military men and women who have entered the stadium and witnessed this glorious tribute to our military and our flag and have left with tears in their eyes and joy in their heart because of its patriotic symbolism. But fair enough, I can understand how some might get upset at this tradition. I’ll leave it there. Thanks for commenting.

  5. DMRegul permalink
    January 26, 2013 7:40 pm

    Disrespect isn’t determined by words in a rulebook, it through intent. Theres no intent here, just patriotic hockey fans.

  6. Ryan permalink
    November 17, 2013 10:01 pm

    It’s a tradition in Chicago. It’s very disrespectful when Chicago fans go to someone else’s arena and cheer during the nation anthem. I personally, think it’s disrespectful all the way around, but I’m not going to argue with someone’s tradition. I have been to several events where the Blackhawks and the Bears were the visiting team. In all cases, the fans were the rudest people I have ever encountered.

    • klsouth permalink*
      November 25, 2013 6:24 pm

      First I heard where a Chicago fan acted inappropriately in a visiting stadium. They should respect the tradition in that local fan base and stadium. I agree with you there.

  7. April 9, 2015 11:50 pm

    What I’ve heard from a friend from Chicago…since both country’s national anthems are often sung before the game, no one boos Canada’s National Anthem but everyone cheers for America’s National Anthem at the United Center. Just a rumor, not sure if that’s how it started.


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