Sometimes an opportunity presents itself that you never knew was a bucket list item… not until you have an opportunity to do it, then realization hits…. THIS is a bucket list item.
In years past when the National Anthem was performed prior to kick-off of a football game, I would watch and wonder what it would be like to be one of those on the field holding up the HUGE American flag, the super flag.
I NEVER thought an opportunity would present itself and I would ACTUALLY be one of those people, on the field before the game kicked off, holding up a football field sized flag while someone sang the National Anthem.
New Year’s Day 2019, my husband and I were among the over 200 volunteers to do just that at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.
It was a few weeks earlier, that my husband had received an email offering him the chance to volunteer to hold the “super” flag at the Fiesta Bowl here in Arizona. He told me about the email and asked what I thought, would I want to do it with him?
He had to ask?
Of course, I would do it with him.
Luckily, he could bring guests. So, he applied to hold the flag and added me as his guest.
A few weeks later, he got the email that we were chosen to hold the American Flag. Yes!! That was going to be cool! The anticipation grew as the day got closer.
More emails followed giving us more details. It would be an early morning on New Years Day with us needing to be at the stadium to practice by 8 am.
Finally, January 1st arrived, and we were up very early and on the road by 6:40 am to make sure we would arrive in time for the practice. It was a COLD morning for Arizona, with temps in the 30’s and we were layered up and had our gloves and hand-warmers.
We arrived at the field along with the others there for the practice and of course, the many who would be tailgating before the game.
I was so excited! This was going to be great! A bucket-list item that I didn’t know was a bucket-list item, until now.
Once we all were gathered on the practice field, the instructions began.
There is a lot more that goes into holding the American Flag on the football field than I ever imagined. It wasn’t just show up, hold the flag and then you are done. Nope!
The process and roles were explained. We would practice on the practice field, then we would line up and walk together down into the “pit” and process through security. Then we would line up again in the pit, remove the rolled up flag from the van and hold it until it was time to move inside. Once inside we would be staged near the entrance to the field…still holding the rolled up flag. Then we would walk out onto the field with the flag and would have a few minutes when we would be able to take pictures while carrying and holding the rolled up flag. And then, finally, it would be “showtime” and we would then quickly leave the field and take the flag back outside to load it into the van. A lot more than I thought went into it.
Once directions were given we were then divided up into our roles…. Holders, Runners, Pullers, Side people. My husband and I chose to be holders, at the top of the flag where we would hold the flag tight while the pullers would pull it open, covering the field. That also meant we would be carrying and holding the rolled up flag for about 45 minutes. No setting it down to rest our weary arms. This super flag was HEAVY (around 2000 lbs!).
When I heard how long we would be holding he flag, I had a fleeting moment where I thought, what if? What if I CAN”T hold it? What if I can’t carry my share of the load? No way! This sounds really difficult. But that was only a fleeting thought! I knew I would be able to do it! If only because it was that unknown bucket list item, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.
I have always been a patriotic girl, from a very young age. And the flag has always held a very emotional meaning for me. So, this was an opportunity I would not let pass by. I was going to do this no matter how difficult or how heavy! What an honor to be on that football field, holding this American Flag, while listening to the Star-Spangled Banner being sung. And to do it standing next to my husband was the icing on the cake. I was getting pretty emotional standing there waiting to enter onto the field.
Then it was time!
We carried that flag out onto the field and stood holding it while the LSU Marching band finished their pre-game performance and left the field. There were a couple more presentations and then a moment to honor our military. And then it was time. They introduced the National Anthem performer, Retired Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Wilson….
The first note sounded and off went the pullers. I held tight to my end of the flag, raising it up to keep it from touching the field and holding it as the pullers stretched the flag across the field. The runners ran in between us and under the flag, their job was to keep the flag from touching the ground.
The emotions ran through me. My pride swelled. This was my country, my National Anthem and my flag. Wow! I cannot even describe all that I was feeling standing there, tightly holding this super flag.
This was AMAZING!
And then it was over, and we quickly moved toward the middle of the flag, pulling and gathering this beautiful flag against us, until we met the pullers in the middle. My arms ached. We were almost done. We carried the gathered and rolled up flag, quickly off the field and back outside to the pit, where we would load it into the van.
And then we were done.
Opportunities come to us, expected and unexpected. I could have said no. It was New Year’s Day and I had lots of things that needed to be done. It would be an early morning and we would have to drive a while to get there. I could have said no, and let my husband go alone.
But I said yes. Sometimes things happen and we don’t realize just how much it will mean to us or that it is a bucket list item until that opportunity is presented.
THIS was one of those events. A bucket-list item I never knew was a bucket list item.
Sometimes we just have to take the leap…. Say yes and enjoy! Oh, the riches those opportunities bring!