Fans rooting for both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday were treated to an event that focused on the spirit of the American people. In a time when political parties have divided our nation on such a large number of issues, including healthcare, the economy, jobs and education, advertisers, celebrities and sports stars came together to promote a message of unity during Super Bowl XLV.
This year, the National Football League continued a tradition that began after the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. NFL officials and players put together a beautiful, patriotic reading of the Declaration of Independence, which ran before the football game. General Colin Powell and Commissioner Roger Goodell introduced the reading, and the NFL dedicated the pre-recorded segment "to all the valiant men and women of the Armed Forces, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom and liberty for more than 200 years."
Just before kick-off, fans were treated to a second pre-recorded video that promoted unity and American pride. "The Journey," narrated by actor Michael Douglas, showcased a variety of images from American history. "Generation after generation, we never give up," said Douglas. "How could we? Can you imagine what life would be like if they didn't persevere during an era that was far from great?" The video highlighted images of President John F. Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and firefighters who served on 9/11. "This is so much bigger than a football game," said Douglas. "These two teams have given us a chance, for one night, to not only dream but to believe. This is a celebration of their journey, of our journey."
The theme of American pride continued through Lea Michele's performance of "America the Beautiful," Christina Aguilera's singing of the Star Spangled Banner and the parade of commercials that featured the rebirth of the American auto industry. Even the Black Eyed Peas took a moment to recognize our current common struggles as Americans when Will.i.am changed the lyrics of "Where Is The Love?" to "In America we need to get things straight. Obama, let's get these kids educationed. Create jobs so the country stays stimulated."
With so much effort put into recognizing the fact that our country needs unity in order to heal from the struggles it has faced over the last few years, I hope Super Bowl fans were listening. I hope that the millions of Americans who enjoyed hot wings and pizza and laughed at the Doritos and Pepsi commercials that aired during the game also took note of the serious messages that were shared during the evening. We can all come together to watch this championship game whether our favorite team is competing or not, but can we stand together to help our country turn a corner, rebuild the economy, create new jobs and refocus efforts on education? Maybe a football game provided just the inspiration we needed.