It was the height of national patriotism that moment in time during Super Bowl XXV in January of 1991. We were the red, white and blue. Operation Desert Shield had just become Desert Storm thrusting us into war for the first time since Vietnam. We were pro-military, pro-troops, pro-America!
And, Whitney Houston brought us to our feet.
In living rooms all across America and the world, Americans stood proud and patriotic. We put down our Super Bowl libations, pressed hands to our hearts and listened in collective silence as the Florida Orchestra cued Whitney Houston. That night she belted out what has become known as the greatest singing of the National Anthem anywhere, anytime. Cheers erupted, tears flowed and every American heart in the world swelled with national pride.
It's easy to recall that feeling now since most of us have lived though 9/11 and can clearly remember the flag-lined neighborhood streets screaming an autumnal Fourth of July. But, back then, in 1991 this was a new experience for us as a country. Of the older crowd, some had healed from the acidic bath of Vietnam, but many more hadn't. Those of us too young to understand the giant rift that had taken place, simply chose to ignore. We talked of the military in hushed tones and often our history teachers never made it past JFK's assassination before school year's end.
But 1991 dawned a new era. Patriotism blew across the land as an unexpected wind snapped our sails and sent us forth, walking a little taller, talking a little louder, acting a bit bolder.
Whitney Houston's performance on the field that evening in Tampa--bad costume choices aside--will always embody for me those heady days where we learned again to be proud of our country and raise the colors with honor on our houses and in public squares.
Thank you, Whitney, for lending your stunning instrument to a moment in history when we all needed to hear, "O'er the land of the free, and home of the brave!"
Rest in peace, Whitney. God Bless America.