Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A Remembrance: The Miracle on Ice

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the United States's victory over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics. I got to catch a replay of the game on ESPN Classic last night. I got a tremendous sense of pride watching the underdog United States beat the vaunted Soviet Union team, that just two weeks earlier had beaten the U.S. 10-3. I found myself joining the crowd and chanting, "USA! USA! USA!" I was feeling all this emotion even though the game took place two years before I was born. I think that says something about the significance of this event in U.S. history. In fact, I believe this game was the turning point in the United States winning the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The U.S. at the time was experiencing a number of difficult events. There was high inflation and high unemployment. Gas shortages were frequent. U.S. hostages had been taken in Iran. The Soviet Union had begun its invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. looked as though its best days were behind it. But something changed after the U.S.'s victory over the USSR. People began to believe in America again. They felt proud to be an American. One of the most touching moments of the rebroadcast of the game was actually a moment that occurred outside of the arena after the game. ABC Broadcaster Jim McKay was the on the verge of tears as he described people in bars spontaneously singing the National Anthem after the U.S.'s victory. Ronald Reagan was able to capture this new found optimism and told Americans on the campaign trail that America's best days were still ahead. People believed him, and the rest is history. Who knew that a stupid little hockey game could have such an effect on how one felt about their own country.

Editor's Note: For those of you who have ESPN Classic, they are showing the game again at 8 PM ET on Thursday.