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Memorial Stadium is home to Huskers, heroes
LINCOLN — This time — and as always – heroes came out as the “Tunnel March” played at Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.
Only this time, it wasn’t just our heroes. It was everybody’s heroes in the United States.
Firemen, military, emergency response and relief, and law enforcement were among those who came out of the door that read “2001 Huskers” before the game with Rice. The Huskers and Rice had already been brought onto the field for the beginning of the tributes.
It was one of the greatest moments in sports, and surely the best in the storied, proud history of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium, named in honor of those who gave their lives for our freedom.
As the biggest flag ever to fly at a Nebraska sporting event towered from a crane near the stadium lights at the 30-yard line, Husker fans took on a greater identity, one we always have, but celebrate far too seldom — Americans.
Tributes are a tough thing to do. They are overdone or underdone. They often simplify or exaggerate.
Not this time. The fans sang along to the first verse of God Bless America. The firefighters, EMTs, police and military were among those honored presenting the flag before the game, in addition to the tunnel march, which occurred minutes later after the National Anthem.
A tribute on the HuskerVision to “America the Beautiful” recounted the horrific series of events last week, capped by President Bush’s promise that America is far too strong to let a group of cowards take away the life Americans have built for more than two centuries.
There was a pause for a moment of silence for the victims, among them three native Nebraskans still missing in the terrorist attacks. It was a place with nearly 78,000 people, and yet a pin dropping would have been heard far and wide.
And there was former coach and current Congressman Tom Osborne saying there is “absolutely no room for discrimination” against people in this country because of race, ethnicity or religious belief. That’s a good point, because men died in wars to make sure we all have the freedom of expression, be it speech or religion.
We move on. It’s what we do in America. We get stronger. We have the resolve and faith to overcome anything. The greatest ovation on the animation at the start of the Tunnel March was for the “United We Stand” on the Platte River Arch, and then the American flag atop Memorial Stadium.
Our country and the world has been forever changed. September 11, 2001, will go down as one of the darkest days in history. But there is more history to be made, both for those accountable and for the world.
Part of that involves military action, along with our own domestic emergency response teams, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army. And though football pales in comparison to recent events, it is still a part of our history.
And as Old Glory stayed fully outstretched in a firm breeze to display all its honor and pride, history was once again made at Memorial Stadium.
Because, as the tribute concluded, “We are the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave. Now, and Forever.”
There are chapters in our history that are both ugly and painful. Yet, we live to write another because we are Nebraskans. And because we are Americans. If there was a dry eye in the stadium, it wasn’t within view of me. There were tears of pain, and tears of pride, as there have been from sea to shining sea these past nine days.
There is a spirit of courage and resolve that Americans all share. It emanates from our leaders, be it President Bush, Governor Johanns or Representative Osborne. And it is this: That we are the United States of America; and for that reason alone — and all that it stands for — we will move forward, and we will prevail.