by David Sisler

I am not a hockey fan. I believe the old joke is truer than fiction - I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out. At Thursday night's home opener for the Augusta Lynx, there were 130 penalty minutes, most of them for fighting. Interestingly, after two game misconduct penalties (ejections) were enforced in the second period, there were no fights in the third period.

Knowing all of this, I bought tickets to attend the Lynx game on Saturday, October 13. There was a fight, early in the first period, which resulted in a game misconduct penalty for an Augusta player. The fight and his subsequent ejection from the game - which his team lost - received greater applause than any of the Lynx goals. Would his presence have counted for more for his team than his absence, I wonder?

But no matter. I bought the tickets to see neither fights nor hockey, but so I could listen to Lee Greenwood and join in as he sang, God Bless the U.S.A. Predicting the outcome beforehand, my son, Matthew, said, "There won't be a dry eye in the house." He was right.

In 1992 Steve Vaus signed a recording contract with RCA. The title song of his first album was We Must Take America Back.

"We must take America back," Vaus sang. "Put an end to the gangs and the drugs in the streets and the fact that the bad guys most always go free. That is wrong. We need leaders who lead us, not stick us and bleed us, then take all our money and send it abroad. We must take America back. We need prayer in the schools and more things 'Made In USA.' It's the least we can do, for the red, white and blue. We must take America back."

The song began to climb some charts. At the stations that played it, We Must Take America Back became their most requested song. Then, writes Joseph Farah for WorldNet Daily, "after a few complaints from some big-city radio stations about the patriotic nature of the song, the company decided to pull the CD off the market."

Four days after terrorists attacked America, Vaus wrote another song. Two days later he recorded, There is an Eagle, and no one is saying this one is too patriotic.

"We are not strangers to a battle. We know that freedom has a cost. We may be bloodied, but we're unbroken. Despite the darkness, we are not lost. For there's an eagle, high above the ashes close by the flag we're fighting for. There's a brave new spirit in America. United forevermore."

United forevermore? Well, maybe not.

From Madison, Wisconsin comes word that the school board barred the Pledge of Allegiance and decided that The Star Spangled Banner should be played without its "martial lyrics." Board member Bill Keys said the board was simply trying to comply with a new state law and protect the rights of pupils who didn't want to feel compelled to recite their loyalty to "one nation, under God." Bombarded by e-mail and telephone calls, the board backed off.

In Rocklin, California, responding to citizen outcry, the ACLU demanded that Breen Elementary School remove the words, "God Bless America," from its marquee. Actually, there was only one person who protested, but this is the response the Anti Christian Liberties Union was looking for. It broadcasts a "hurtful message," they said. The school told the ACLU to take a hike - the sign stays up! As of October 13, the ACLU had not indicated whether it intends to pursue the issue.

Support for the Rocklin Unified School District has appeared from some unexpected places.

Michael Sands from Sacramento, who identified himself, in a letter to the editor published by The Sacramento Bee, as a member of the ACLU for 40 years, called the ACLU's move a "frivilous attack."

In the same issue of the Bee, Ann Silberman, also from Sacramento, and a self-avowed atheist, writes, "The petty complaint only serves to emphasize the depths of ACLU intolerance. The ACLU is again trying to exploit the Constitution in order to further its agenda ... It saddens me that during a time when we should all pull together, we are instead squabbling over a phrase that hurts nobody."

If this matter is litigated, I pray that the court which hears the case will have the courage to pat Breen Elementary School on the back, not stab them in it.

Steve Vaus wrote another song. It's called Why, Why, Why?

"Used to be a prayer here, til it was outlawed. They said a school's no place for prayer or God. No Golden Rule, no silent moments, don't even think His name. It's a cryin' shame.

"Used to be Scouts pledged themselves, to God and country true, but now God's optional thanks to the ACLU. Don't wanna make a child think of Him in anything they do or say. Welcome to the new USA.

"Where everybody wonders. Why, why, why the crime rate's high Why do bullets fly, why, why? And we cry, cry, cry every time a kid commits suicide. And we wonder why, why, why.

"Used to be a cross here, but the court said 'Take it down.' Said it gives the wrong idea with a cross on government ground. Soon 'In God We Trust' will be gone too from coins and dollar bills. They're gonna want that next, you know they will.

"And all of us'll wonder. Why, why, why the crime rate's high? Why do bullets fly, why, why? And we'll cry, cry, cry every time another kid commits suicide. And we wonder why, why, why.

"We've got to do more than shake our heads and wonder. We know the answer, God help us stop the blood and thunder. We've got to try, try, try to make things right. Get back to the light, try, try. It's up to you, you and I, we've gotta lead the fight. With all our might, try, try."

At the hockey game Saturday night I wept with joy as the crowd stood and sang. I sang as loudly as I could. Then I whistled louder.

During the baseball playoffs Sunday I watched every seventh inning stretch. No longer do we sing, "Take me out to the ball game." Now we pray, "God bless America, land that I love!"

This is a good day for patriotism, for remembering the blessings of the Lord God Almighty. But it was not that long ago when it was a good day, every day. Then we became careless and the nay-sayers took the lead. It took the devastating attack of September 11 to wake us up and begin this turn back to the God who loves us. Now is not the time to become complacent. The price our nation paid to return to this point of prayer and patriotism was too high for it to be wasted.


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