Anthem tradition disrespectful? Think again, Rob Otto.


Put down the stones and step back into your glass house, Rob Otto. You’re entitled to your opinion, but make sure you start thinking more clearly before publishing your work — especially in the forum you intend to do so.

Otto of publicized his distaste for the Chicago Blackhawks’ tradition of cheering throughout the National Anthem before games at the United Center yesterday, writing it is “disrespectful to the song and what it stands for…” His military upbringing did not teach him such practices, and Otto was taught to have respect for his country and for his flag.

Otto doesn’t buy Blackhawks fans are being patriotic, and it “makes his skin crawl every time he hears it.” And Otto wrote this on his blog titled, “Ottoman Empire.”

Hmm. “Ottoman Empire,” huh? Interesting play on words. What’s the point you’re trying to make, Mr. Otto, with the title of this blog? The Ottoman Empire controlled parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, expanding the empire by war and ruling for nearly 700 years into the 20th Century.

Want to talk about disrespect? I can assure you there’s no one out there with ancestors who supported the Ottoman Empire writing for blogs titled “The United States of America” and bashing traditions they don’t understand. Whether or not you came up with this title, Mr. Otto, a rather large chunk of world history has been demeaned to make you look creative.

Simply because you believe you have a strong voice with powerful opinions and want to make your readers clear that is the case, you have no right to compare yourself to an empire which dominated most of the world over the course of two different centuries.

My point is this, Mr. Otto: The title of your blog I’m more than sure means no disrespect to anyone. I’m sure you and most of your readers even find it to be slightly humorous. I know this, and I know there’s no significant meaning to it. The same goes for Blackhawks fans who cheer during the National Anthem in support of their country. No disrespect is meant, and there’s no malicious intent by partaking in this tradition.

I interviewed Jim Cornelison, who sings a heart-throbbing rendition of the song every night before faceoff. He enjoys the tradition, and he’s smart enough to know the fans aren’t cheering for him. They cheer because of the song he’s singing with passion.

Men and woman who have and currently are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces stand patriotically next to Cornelison as he bellows out the tune over the roaring fans. These men and woman are well aware of the tradition before stepping foot onto that red carpet extended onto the ice. Do you really believe these soldiers would partake in the event if they believe the United Center tradition is disrespectful to the country they’re serving?

The soldiers stand proudly during the Anthem, then gladly accept a standing ovation midway through each game from their seat as the crowd makes known its appreciation of their service. Even the players knock their sticks against the boards to salute them.

You’re also forgetting before the 1991 All-Star Game at Chicago Stadium, the tradition you loathe led to captivating millions of viewers around the country in support of our troops serving in the Gulf War. Fans hung flags from the rafters, tears rolled down the faces of many in the crowd and patriotism was taken to another level.

If that’s not respect, I don’t know what more you want. I’m a season ticket holder, and I partake in this tradition proudly. It literally gives me chills. Because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean you have to knock it.

People celebrate and support traditions in different manners than others. I’ll accept the point you made: Not all traditions are always right.

But celebrating a tradition differently than yourself doesn’t always make it wrong, either.

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