It has now been almost two weeks of no baseball or softball at the high school level, and I truly miss it.

Thursday, March 26, was suppose to been the Cincinnati Reds' Opening Day, and I truly miss it.

This past Saturday would have been the day for the Warrior Invitational track meet at Southwestern's Reservation, and I truly miss it.

But the one thing that dawned on me that I truly missed the most, without even knowing it, was the playing of our National Anthem before each one of these events.

Before every softball game and baseball game, I stood and faced the American Flag with my right hand over my heart in anticipation of the playing and/or singing of 'The Star-Spangled Banner'.

Over the course of a high school spring sports season, I will probably stood at attention for about 50 different renditions of our National Anthem. And during an average year, I might have heard that beautiful 'rocket's red glare' song close to 200 times.

But now it has been close to three weeks since I have heard that prideful 'Oh say can you see' American tune, and it has been nearly 17 days since I placed my right hand over my heart and stared at the American Flag waving in the breeze.

'The Star-Spangled Banner' started out as a poem, named Defence of Fort M'Henry, written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812. Later the poem was put to music by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, and then soon became a well-known U.S. patriotic song.

One hundred seconds in length, 'The Star-Spangled Banner' started out every sporting event in the local area and around the nation. Many times I took the playing of our National Anthem for granted. Many times I might have had a millions other things on my mind, instead of thinking about the history, traditions, and struggles of the people before me that fought for and defended this great nation.

And now, all of sudden when we all need the National Anthem the most, it is nowhere to be found. With no large (or small) formal gatherings of Americans, the National Anthem has almost become obsolete in our daily lives over the past several days of social distancing.

Granted I can't play the music or sing the song of 'The Star-Spangled Banner', but I would like to start out my Commonwealth Journal sports section today with the words of our famous National Anthem. And as you look at the stars and stripes of the flag in the background of this story, think about and give praise to the new heroes and freedom fighters in today's world in their efforts to defend our country from the Coronavirus.

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,

What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,

O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,

Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;

Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land

Praise the pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,

And this be our motto: "in god is our trust"

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wa

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Play Ball!

STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at sports@somerset-kentucky.com.

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