While many teams have cut back on a tradition that began in the aftermath of September 11th, Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees continue to sing “God Bless America” loudly and proudly before each and every home game.
And those who join No. 99 near first base don’t just stand at attention when the song is broadcast throughout the stadium. They sing.
“Singing “God Bless America” is my sign of respect for the veterans who are being honored on the field,” Judge told NJ Advance Media.
“They’re 70 years old, some are 80, some are 90 and can barely walk. You see an old photo of them, their rank, what branch of the service, where they fought. I have nothing but respect for them.”
The tradition of singing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch began after 9/11. Major League Baseball instructed all teams to play the song.
Over the years many have scaled back and only play the song on special occasions, but not the Yankees. They continue to play Robert Merrill’s recorded version every single game.
“‘God Bless America’ is permanent in our ballpark,” team president Randy Levine said. “It’s part of George Steinbrenner’s legacy and that’s not going to change. It will be played in perpetuity.”
Judge reflected on his younger days when he first learned to appreciate the flag.
“It was incredible to me the sacrifices those young men made,” Judge said, talking about the United States’ role in World War II. “They went overseas and endured incredible hardship, 18 and 19-year-olds, their courage. The ones that made it back, their lives were never the same, physically or emotionally.”
“So every time the anthem is played, especially on Opening Day, when we’re lined up (at the first base line) or when ‘God Bless America’ is played, I’m thanking those who made it possible for me to play a baseball game and make a living like that.”
“Every time I see a soldier or marine or sailor – or a policeman or firefighter – I say, “thank you.” I can’t thank them all, so I do it by singing.”
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Wouldn’t it be great if more athletes had the same respect for songs like “God Bless America” and our country’s flag?
Share if you agree!