I am not a football fan. I just want to be clear on that point. I never understood the point. However, I do like to laugh, so I find myself, year in and year out, watching the Super Bowl for the ads. My family and friends often converse about them throughout. Also, as many others will do, we watch and critique the half time show. Remember the famous “wardrobe malfunction”? I never thought, however, that I would be brought to tears during the big game.
The game was about to begin, and as usual, I was seated away from the television so as not to let my guffawing interrupt the avid sports fans in my midst. We had just seen the teaser Volkswagen commercial featuring their slogan, “Get in, Get Happy”, which I loved. A few moments later, however, my mood would change.
The announcers came on right before the kickoff, and the Elementary School Chorus from Sandy Hook Elementary School were introduced. They were about to perform “America, the Beautiful”. The music started, and they began to sing. And that’s when I lost it. Those beautiful children all standing so proud, began to sing with absolutely angelic voices. All of the hype and team spirit that had filled our home on this, the night of the Super Bowl, was silenced as we listened.
Some of you know that I am a music educator. I have spent the majority of my teaching career working with elementary school children. I am passionate about keeping the arts in schools. But, watching these children, no older than the students I teach, and knowing as we all do the horror that they have had to endure, was too much to take in. Such strength. Such poise. Such pride.
These children assembled on the field on America’s biggest stage to take part in a ceremony that that would determine the winner of the Super Bowl. But all we could think about in that moment was how brave those children were. I was reminded how powerful music can be. The lyrics to the song, poignant as ever, sung by children who had every right to be hardened and bitter was filling the stadium for America to hear, “from sea to shining sea…”
I know that I may sound naïve, but in the moment that my house became silent, I realized once again that music has the power to change. The raucous stadium in New Orleans transfixed by the music and message that these lovely children were spreading is proof of that. The camera, panning across the players on the field who as much emotion as I was; teary eyes leaking down their faces. It was bittersweet.
“America The Beautiful” has always been my favorite patriotic tune. But now, it will mean just a bit more. My hope for a beautiful peaceful America remains, and when faced with incredible adversity as these young ones have endured, may we take these children’s example and hope for a better tomorrow. “Surround thy good with brotherhood…”
You can see the clip below…