National Anthem Tradition
If you have ever been to a Blackhawks home game, then you know exactly what tradition happens before each and every puck drop at the United Center.
If you have not been there, well then your missing out on something spectacular.
What takes place during the national anthem is a tradition unlike any other in sports.
Right before most sporting events, some rendition of the national anthem is sung, it’s nothing new.
But when the lights go down and Jim Cornelison hits the ice with numerous ARMY vets and troopers and starts singing, the tradition comes alive.
The tradition being the crowd cheering and clapping so loud you can barely hear Cornelison.
This may not sound like a big thing but until you have experienced it, you can never understand.
This small but powerful ritual is said to have begun in 1985 in the old Chicago Stadium. The Blackhawks were playing the Edmonton Oilers in the play offs. The Hawks were down in the series and the crowd was so excited for the game and tried to pump up the players that they began cheering during the anthem, which started a controversial but electrifying tradition in Chicago Blackhawks history.
Since that playoff series, the crowd has cheered at every home game during the Star Spangled Banner.
The annual NHL All-Star games were being held in the Chicago Stadium in 1991, which two days before “Operation Desert Storm” was declared.
Before the All-Star games started, the whole hockey world got a taste of what was transpiring in Chicago during every game.
The cheering during that anthem was not for the hockey, but for the troops, making it the patriotic act it is today. It was probably the most special and emotional anthem in all of hockey.
In an interview with Chicago Blackhawks writer, Bob Verdi, former NHLer Wayne Gretsky, who was there for the games said “I was standing next to Mark Messier during the anthems.” I said to him, ‘this is unbelievable.’ I’ve heard it as loud here before when we came into Chicago with the Edmonton Oilers. But never as emotional. The flags of both countries, the banners, the vibrations. You could tell that the fans, like us, were thinking of other things.”
Almost 30-years later, the tradition in Chicago is still alive and well, the sell-out crowds constantly overpowering the singer.
Although some people think it is unpatriotic and disrespectful, a lot of people see it as a sign of support for the troops.
If there is one thing a person should do, its go to a Hawks game and witness, in person, the powerful, national anthem in Chicago.