National anthem to have added emotion at Ravens games this season

The national anthem is different at Ravens home games. You can feel it every time the singer is introduced on the field, with the M&T Bank Stadium public address announcer stating, “Now, to perform ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ written right here in Baltimore.” You can feel it again when the home crowd does the local custom of loudly emphasizing and elongating the “Oh” in the lyrics, “Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave.”

When Ravens and Orioles fans sing it, it becomes “Ohhh!!!!!!!!!! say …” The anthem is performed with such enthusiasm that it evokes Whitney Houston’s famous rendition at Super Bowl XXV, widely considered the greatest performance of the song at a sporting event.

The anthem will hit home even more this upcoming baseball and football seasons given the tragic events of yesterday morning. After being struck by a large shipping vessel, the Francis Scott Key bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River. Eight construction workers fell into the icy waters. Two were rescued, while the other six are missing and presumed dead.

The bridge, which carried the Baltimore Beltway, was named for Maryland lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key, who penned “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812 while observing the bombing of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry aboard an American ship.

Key, an ancestor and the namesake of the great American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, became inspired to write the song when he noticed the Stars and Stripes were still waving proudly despite the heavy British bombardment. Today, M&T Bank Stadium sits about 2.5 miles from Fort McHenry.

The collapse of the bridge, which opened in 1977, was a surreal site (coincidentally, the name of the vessel that brought it down was Dali, the most famed surrealist painter), and soon after the span fell, official statements poured in from both Ravens players and the club itself. By some estimates, 30,000 vehicles crossed that bridge per day. Given where the bridge was situated, Baltimore has been forced to close its harbor temporarily.

The harbor is estimated to account for about $15 million per day in economic activity. It is America’s top port for importing and exporting automobiles, affecting about 140,000 jobs. Yesterday’s events will adversely impact an extensive cross-section of the Baltimore community.

The community will rally around one another, and you’ll see and hear that every time “The Star-Spangled Banner” is performed. While the bridge that bore his name is now gone, Francis Scott Key’s primary legacy is alive and well.

Story originally appeared on Ravens Wire