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Stand And Defend

I didn't expect much from that hockey game last winter; the season hadn't been going well. But when I had the opportunity to attend with my brother, I couldn't pass it up.

That game wasn't exciting. In fact, not much of anything happened in the favor of my beloved team. So many of the fans had grown bored of the game itself and turned their attention to the scattered groups of rowdy boys making light of the poor display of athletic ability. It must have been somewhere in between watching these fans and actually watching the game, when a commercial break caught everyone's attention.

Tradition has it at sporting events, to always have someone to welcome to the building, especially at professional hockey games. That night, though, there wasn't an announcement of a player's family or a local peewee team. Instead, what we got were heroes.

An iconic voice somewhere in the rafters introduced to us people an infantry division based right there at home. No more than one week prior had they returned home from Iraq, and that night they were given a suite to share with their families.

I watched that night as smiles wider than I had ever seen were plastered on the faces of those soldiers and their loved ones. And when I took my eyes off of that jumbo-tron, I witnessed something beautiful. All of those fans were on their feet. Players from both teams had stopped dead in their tracks to look up. Referees held off on the faceoff to take notice. That standing ovation lasted longer than that of any goal ever scored in that building.

On a night when there seemed nothing to cheer about, patriotism gave way and showed that entire arena what it really meant to be a team of 18,000.

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