My father took me to my first Miami Dolphins game in 1977, and I remember looking up at him as we stood to sing “The Star Spangled Banner.” Just as it is today, Miami back then was a city of enormous diversity, with many people like my father who had come from other nations and had their lives changed by America.
In that crowd, you could have found some people who loved salsa and merengue and others who preferred R&B. I’m sure some were even (inexplicably, I might add) fans of the Bee Gees and other disco acts of the ’70s. But in that moment, all of us there, representing every background imaginable, were united by our appreciation and respect for our national anthem. Through this song, we became “out of many, one.”
I’ve been to numerous sporting events since then — from the NFL to the MLB to peewee football — where our national anthem is sung before the competition begins. I’ve also watched on TV some of the most unforgettable renditions, including Whitney Houston’s powerful Super Bowl performance in 1991 and Marvin Gaye’s famous version at the NBA All-Star Game in 1983. And every time, as I look around the audience and see Americans standing with their caps removed, it still gives me chills.
In those moments, no one cares whether the people to their left or right are Republicans or Democrats, immigrants or native-born. No one even minds if they’re fans of the opposing team.
Instead, we’re reminded that we’re all Americans. We’re all proud of our heritage, grateful to those who died to ensure our freedom, and forever indebted to those who continue that fight today.
Our national anthem is a stirring reminder of our solidarity as a people. So as we mark the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s penning of “The Star Spangled Banner,” let us take this chance to reflect on the history and promise of our nation — on how the things that divide us as individuals will never be more powerful that what unites us as Americans.
— Marco Rubio represents Florida in the U.S. Senate.