Viewpoint: Anthem Unites Palisades Polo Participants

By Tim Meade
Special to the Palisades News

It was an absolutely lovely day at the Will Rogers State Park polo field, with about 200 people, food, music and an overall quite festive atmosphere on October 8 for the Pacific Palisades Chamber’s 25th Polo Tournament.

At a particular point in time, the organizers arranged some horses and polo players on the field, called our attention to the flag, and introduced the singer for the National Anthem.

A lovely young woman named Elle Carling stepped onto the field with microphone in hand and began to sing. Her voice was strong and true, and as is typical at many events, the crowd murmured along with the music, some louder than others.

Unfortunately, early in the song there were technical difficulties, and Ms. Carling’s microphone began to cut in and out.

What happened next, I feel to be an exceptionally poignant moment, particularly in light of today’s headlines around individuals kneeling in protest during our National Anthem.

The first couple of times her microphone failed, there was mostly confused silence from the crowd. Every few seconds Ms. Carling’s lovely voice would return, only to cut out again.

As this progressed, a number of individuals (including my vocally challenged self ) decided to try to pick up the slack and increased their volume to continue our Anthem.

This in turn encouraged others who also began to sing louder. This created a viral effect whereby two-thirds of the way through the song, virtually the entire crowd was singing our National Anthem, loudly and proudly. 

As the final notes faded, enormous applause erupted with many whistles and shouts! There was a palpable sense of pride and unity in the crowd, and my companions and I turned to each other with astonishment about what had just happened.

I immediately approached Ms. Carling and told her that that was the most amazing National Anthem I had ever heard!

She seemed a bit confused at first given the technical difficulty, but I went on to explain why. Amid current headlines, TV news stories and internet reporting of NFL players refusing to stand for our National Anthem and what I see as a general erosion of our country’s nationalism, I had just witnessed definitive proof that the American spirit is alive and well.

Not only did we not have any “kneelers” present as the song commenced, when the going got tough Americans pulled together to pick up the slack, and honored our great country.

I view this as a potential inflection point during this controversy which highlights the beginning of a healing process, and a return to what made America great in the first place: working together shoulder to shoulder around common goals to build the greatest country in the world. A country that affords more freedoms and opportunities for its citizens than any other country on the planet: The United States of America.

Everyone on the field that day felt something special, and I believe it’s important that others hear about it in order to possibly make change of their own.

(Editor’s note: Tim Meade was the Highlands resident the News wrote about in December 2016, “Germans Unite a Neighborhood.” A German family was stranded in the Palisades. Meade invited them into his home for dinner and eventually for the week.)

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