I was out watching the Sabres/Bruins game Wednesday night. Did you see the pre-game ceremony? The National Anthem? To hear 18,000 people singing along to the most beautiful song ever written brought tears to my eyes, and from what I saw, many other grown men and women's eyes as well.

After Monday's cowardly bombing at the Boston Marathon, Wednesday's hockey game had more meaning than two teams playing one another. This was about healing. Not only for a city rocked by evil, but for a nation on edge since September 11.

As the fans sang along, the bar/restaurant I was at was silent. I heard a young kid ask his dad why "those guys took their hats off". This boy couldn't have been much older than Martin Richard, the 8 year old whose life ended at the hands of a evil, gutless coward.

It made me think to myself: Why do I uncover for the anthem? Is it merely tradition?

I know I can't cover it all in a web blog. After all, I am just a radio guy with random thoughts. However, it is a great question that should be on our minds every time I hear the words of "The Star-Spangled Banner".

I take my hat off because it is the right thing to do. The right way to show respect.  Not for a piece of cloth, but for what the flag and the words of the anthem represent. EVERY time I hear it sung, I think about the men and women serving our country. Young people that I have never even met that wake up every day ready to protect me and this great country. I think about the victims of tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing, who only wanted to observe their loved ones complete a task that very few do in their lives.

I realize the song in its form at sporting events is only two minutes long. However, I can't help but think of the hard-working farmers that work tirelessly night and day, 24/7/365, to keep us fed. I think about the truck drivers on a cross-country haul that don't get to see their families but once or twice every month. They move the goods that make this country move.

I think about people like my mom and dad. That worked so hard to give me and my siblings the best of everything. Even if it meant their own sacrifice. I think about the elementary school teachers that go the extra mile to make sure a kid has a chance at greatness when others have counted them out.

When I sing along to our anthem, I think back to how proud I was when my oldest brother came home from the Marine Corps for the first time. A real soldier in my family?? My eternal hero.

For the first responders. For my brother in the ER at Millard Suburban Hospital. For the people that have brought themselves out of darkness or excelled even when they have lived a life in fear, regret or depression.

When the anthem is played, even at a tractor pull or rodeo, I think about the single mom that is working five jobs just to make a car payment, rent and day care bill. I think about the men and women from our nation's past. When the world was at war, they got even stronger -- coming together as one nation, regardless of political, religious or personal belief.

The greatest thing I have witnessed in years were the fans at the Boston hockey game on Wednesday night singing along to "The Star-Spangled Banner". Life is so interesting in the United States. Sure, I bitch about things that make me mad. Yes, I disagree with things that government does on occasion. However, when it comes down to it, I am a citizen of the United States of America. I take my hat off to thank all of us and show my respect for the strength we have and our ability to unite in the most difficult of times.  It's the least I can do to show my appreciation.