May 2, 2011, 4:00 PM EDT
Some people view the singing of the national anthem as a typical ceremony, but there are times when that moment holds greater meaning. Sometimes it’s because the singer flubs the lyrics, but other times the anthem comes shortly after a momentous occurrence in history.
As you’ve undoubtedly discussed today (we’ve been discussing it, too), the news that Osama bin Laden was killed reverberates through almost every sect of American society and the hockey world is no different.
The Philadelphia Flyers will host the Boston Bruins in Game 2 at the Wells Fargo Center tonight, the first NHL playoff game that will take place since the news arrived. (The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Washington Capitals in overtime before the world was aware of what happened.) Philadelphia is a fitting place for such an event to happen, even beyond its deep ties to some of the most notable moments in American history.
Ever since the team cited Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” as a good luck charm, the Flyers’ pre-game ceremonies* always seem like a bigger event. The team currently combines video of Smith’s performance of the song along with live vocals from Lauren Hart.
Hart said that she relishes the opportunity to sing the song on what could be a very emotional night. She also recalls singing “God Bless America” before a New York Rangers-Flyers exhibition game that was ultimately cut short for President George W. Bush’s speech on September 21, 2011.
“Just under normal circumstances, it’s so incredibly exciting and loud down there, but this is different; it made me think (Monday morning) when I was thinking about singing,” Hart told NHL.com. “I remember singing “God Bless America” almost 10 years ago during the (preseason) game that was halted for the speech given by President Bush after it all happened.”
“Not until (Monday) morning while listening to the radio and hearing the people talk about ‘God Bless America’ tonight did it dawn on me that this would be important to people and it would be a special moment for everybody in that building tonight.
“I feel so fortunate to do what I do,” she continued. “I really see the people and I really do look at faces and I see how they react. I know there’s going to be a lot of tears. I see it on a regular basis, but (Monday), I know it’ll turn into something even greater.”
If you’re not lucky enough to be in the building during that emotional Game 2, you can watch the game on Versus at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight.
* – The Flyers decided to change from “The Star Spangled Banner” to “God Bless America” during the 1973-74 season because tension regarding the Vietnam War was high. They’ve stuck with that practice ever since.
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