One of the more powerful post-9/11 traditions in New York City is that the famous son “God Bless America” plays at Yankee Stadium during the seventh inning stretch. That tradition is one that Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, sidelined because of a toe injury, takes very seriously.
In fact, Judge doesn’t just stand up but joins in singing the song during every game at which it plays, doing so while standing at attention by the first base with his hat off and hand over his heart. Judge explained why he does so in an interview with NJ.com, explaining that his doing so is his way of honoring the veterans at the stadium.
Speaking on that during the interview, he said, “Singing ‘God Bless America’ is my sign of respect for the veterans who are being honored on the field. They’re 70 years old, some are 80, some are 90 and can barely walk. You see an old photo of them, their rank, what branch of the service, where they fought. I have nothing but respect for them.”
Commenting on his respect for the sacrifices those veterans made when fighting America’s wars abroad, a respect that grew out of his learning about American history, particularly the Second World War, Judge said, “It was incredible to me the sacrifices those young men made. They went overseas and endured incredible hardship, 18 and 19-year-olds, their courage. The ones that made it back, their lives were never the same, physically or emotionally.”
And out of that respect grew his conduct for “God Bless America,” conduct that he sees as expressing his thankfulness and respect for the sacrifices of America’s veterans. “So every time the anthem is played, especially on Opening Day, when we’re lined up (at the first base line) or when ‘God Bless America’ is played, I’m thanking those who made it possible for me to play a baseball game and make a living like that,” Judge said.
He added, “Every time I see a soldier or marine or sailor – or a policeman or firefighter – I say, ‘thank you.’ I can’t thank them all, so I do it by singing.” Judge then added that he wishes everyone in the stadium would join him in singing, saying, “Being patriotic is something everyone can all share, and I don’t mean just my teammates, but the fans, too. I wish everyone in the Stadium would join us (singing). It’s the least we can do.”
Yankees President Randy Levine commented on the song as well, saying, “‘God Bless America’ is permanent in our ballpark. It’s part of George Steinbrenner’s legacy and that’s not going to change. It will be played in perpetuity.”
Anthony Volpe commented on his patriotism and “God Bless America” too, saying, “Any time I’m able to display how proud I am to be an American, I do. Everyone in our clubhouse is an embodiment of the opportunity we have. Both my parents started from nothing and worked their way up to whatever they wanted in the world. Even for the non-American players on our team, you can be anything in this country.”
Featured image credit: By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA – Aaron Judge, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62366524
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