A time to remember

Published 9:15 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some of the most memorable moments involving sports in this country occur when sports intersect with, and even make way for, events that deserve to be reflected upon and put into perspective as well as possible.

Among the most obvious examples are the ones that happen on big stages and on national and worldwide television. There was President Bush throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium after 9-11. There was Whitney Houston’s National Anthem at the Super Bowl during the first few days of Desert Storm.

The 1980 Miracle on Ice was a reason to celebrate the red, white and blue without a moment of silence.

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In 1981, the Super Bowl went on as planned as a celebration of the release of the American hostages in Iran, and the NCAA basketball final was nearly postponed, but then went on as planned, despite the assassination attempt on President Reagan earlier that day. In 1989, the San Francisco earthquake postponed the World Series, but it continued a week later.

After Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Saints still played the rest of the NFL season, although with no true home games in New Orleans. The next NFL season was a constant party, as the Saints were able to play again in the New Orleans Superdome.

In the last week, since the inexplicable attack and murders at Fort Hood, similar remembrances have taken place in their own small ways at nearly all of the high school games I’ve been getting around to from Virginia Beach to Richmond and back.

Field hockey matches and Friday night football games aren’t Super Bowls, but take the moments of silence at the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center, Lakeland football and Walsingham — and those are just the ones I’ve been on hand for — and multiply those all over the country at high school, college, pro and recreation league games and all-in-all, that probably gets to more Americans than the Super Bowl ratings.

Sports events get people together and, on one hand, properly remember events more important than a football game, but still, on the other hand, give folks an outlet to have a couple hours of leisure. And it isn’t always about wars or politics.

Take, for example, two young men who should always be remembered here in Suffolk. Nansemond River High School remembers Randy Burden with his No. 18 still prominently at its baseball field and Nansemond-Suffolk still has No. 40 retired in memory of Kevin Blanchard.

Finally, on the subject of proper respect and remembrance, Lakeland wrestling coach and football public address announcer John Bostwick also deserves credit.

Prior to each Lakeland football game this season, Bostwick reminded the fans in the stands to continue standing following the National Anthem until the Lakeland Junior ROTC had fully retired the colors from the football field to fully observe proper etiquette and respect for the flag.

ANDREW GIERMAK is publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald. He can be reached at andrew.giermak@suffolknewsherald.com