Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
As the first few notes of our National Anthem fill the air in the gym, I sneak a peek down the line of my teammates. I can’t help but smile. Our toes of our White/Black Mizuno volleyball shoes are touching the end line. Our backs are to the net as we face the stars and stripes of our American flag.
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
We are standing shoulder to shoulder with our left arm around our teammate and the other pressed softly against our hearts. We watch as the flag dances slowly in the breeze of the air conditioner.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight
Suddenly, there is no one else in the gym with me. There is no opposing team. No referees or line judges. There are no fans or family members. It is just the flag and me in my volleyball gear.
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
My thoughts wander to the men and women of our military, who fight for our freedoms – past, present, and future. If it wasn’t for them, would I be here standing on the court with my teammates?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Would I be a student-athlete in college? Would I have this jersey with my team’s name on the front? Would I even be here?
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Would I have this incredible opportunity to represent my university every weekend during volleyball season in a match against other teams from across this wonderful nation?
Oh, say does that Star – Spangled Banner yet wave
I catch my breath as I realize that every freedom I have, including the sport I love, comes from the work of our armed forces – men and women who I don’t even know. And these strangers – who don’t even know me – have given up so many things, so that I can have so much.
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
As our National Anthem comes to an end and the crowd roars with anticipation of the upcoming battle across the net, I switch my focus back to volleyball. However, our Armed Forces and the true battles they face are not forgotten. Each and every time I hear the opening notes of The Star-Spangled Banner, I think of them. I can only hope that my silently prayer of thanks can be heard and felt by them all.
Let’s all remember the true meaning of this day. Whether you are playing sand volleyball, barbecuing with the family, or taking in a fireworks show, take a minute to think about it. While our country is not perfect, we should still be thankful.
To the members of our military – past, present, future – Stars and Spikes Forever!