September 15, 2005

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if the game never got started? That was the question I asked myself as I sat in the stands at the St. Louis Cardinals game on Sunday afternoon. It was not a matter of impatience, but instead a glum observation regarding the trying times we are now witnessing. Prior to the start of the ball game a number of ceremonies were held as the fans were asked to observe a series of special events.

Sunday, September 11th was the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our nation. A giant United States Flag was unveiled in center field by members of the St. Louis fire and police departments as the National Anthem was performed.

A moment of silence was observed for all the victims of 9/11 and since the Cardinals were playing the New York Mets, a special ceremony was held for a family of 9/11 victims that were traveling with the team to honor the date.

Next came the announcements regarding Red Cross donations and relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The big screens showed scenes of rescue efforts and of the displaced refugees from New Orleans. The 40,000 plus baseball fans in attendance were reminded to please make a donation at one of the many locations at the stadium.

Then Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan was honored at home plate for his charity program that is helping raise money for families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The widow and son of an Illinois soldier killed in Iraq were on hand to thank the Cardinals hurler for his personal donations to the program as well as for his, and the Cardinals support of the charity.

Geez, it was enough to make me feel guilty for being at a ball game on a Sunday afternoon. Here I was on such a momentous day, enjoying a ballpark hot dog and a cold one while so many people down south were still suffering in the aftermath of the storm. To finish off my personal guilt trip, I had the reminder of our troops overseas, whose perilous duty has taken a backseat to problems at home.

Whatís a person to do? I meant no disrespect to our great nation or those that suffered through 9/11. Iíve donated to the Red Cross and am hoping to assist with local fund-raisers for the Katrina victims and Iím keeping our troops in my prayers as well as in my thoughts and actions as I continue to support their efforts on our behalf.

Even if I did feel a little guilty, my pride far outweighed that emotion. How can anyone that lives in the United States not feel great satisfaction knowing we live in the greatest country in the world, among the most wonderful, caring and giving people.

It often takes a tragedy like 9/11, Katrina or the War in Iraq, to bring out this pride in our fellow man. Itís not that kindness and character are not evident on a daily basis, itís just that a catastrophe or a tragedy simply makes us all stand up and pay attention to how great we have it. It wouldnít have bothered me at all if we had canceled the ball game and sang God Bless America the rest of the day.

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