Can we come together like we did 40 years ago?

Back in 1980, many of us spent President Washington’s birthday watching an Olympic hockey game.  It went into the history books as the “Miracle on Ice.”   They even made a movie out of that day when the U.S. beat the mighty USSR, 4-3.

As you may remember, we were in the middle of various crises, abroad and at home.  First, the USSR had just invaded Afghanistan and was pushing its weight around in Nicaragua and paying for Cuban troops in Africa. Second, Iran had kidnapped U.S. diplomats and mocking President Carter every day. It seemed like no one feared the U.S. The bad guys certainly didn’t. And third, the U.S. economy was struggling through long gas lines, inflation, and stagflation.

But in the midst of all this, a bunch of young Americans gave us the time of our lives.  It was the first hockey game that I ever paid attention to. The U.S. beat the old USSR in the Olympic semifinals to move on to the gold game. 

What a great game.  In fact, listening to Al Michaels of ABC call the last minute of that game was unbelievable. Here is the story of that day:

“In one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history, the underdog U.S. hockey team, made up of college players, defeats the four-time defending gold-medal winning Soviet team at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York. The Soviet squad, previously regarded as the finest in the world, fell to the youthful American team 4-3 before a frenzied crowd of 10,000 spectators. Two days later, the Americans defeated Finland 4-2 to clinch the hockey gold.”

It gave us the lift that we all needed back then!  Again, what a game and how timely that it happened on George Washington’s birthday.

Looking back at that day, can this happen again now?  With schools dropping Washington’s name, would people today complain that it was an all-white team projecting white supremacy?  I hope that I’m wrong.  I was there cheering those young men that day in 1980.  I had disagreements with people back then, but no one was cheering against the country.  On the contrary, this hockey game brought the nation together.

Could that happen today?  I hope so, but 20-something folks back in 1980 had a more positive view of their country than the ones that I see on TV or on the streets today.  We had disagreements, but we were all waving the U.S. flag on hoping for a victory on Washington’s birthday.

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).