The news came down Sunday evening: American Navy Seals have killed Osama bin Laden.
Baseball fans in Philadelphia starting seeing the news in email alerts on cell phones and began to chant, "U-S-A, U-S-A!" Soon the players on the field began to understand what was going on.
The crowd even cheered for their competition as Ronny Paulino's 14th-inning double lifted the visiting New York Mets over the Phillies, 2-1. The victory over the leader of Al-Qaida and a blow against international terrorism transcended hometown loyalties, as fans remembered that terrible day nearly 10 years ago.
It is perhaps fitting that a celebration would take place during a baseball game; sports played a significant role in America's reaction to the horrific attack on Sept. 11, 2001. Ten days later, Major League Baseball returned to the field with the New York Mets meeting rival Atlanta in a heated National League East pennant race.
It's hard to forget the images of that ballgame -both teams lined up for a tearful national anthem, side-by-side with first responders who had lost so many brothers on that fateful September day. Fans gripped American flags and held on to each other, using baseball as a way to find a semblance of normalcy in a world that suddenly seemed so incomprehensibly violent. "God Bless America" took the place of "Take Me out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch, just as it had after the attack on Pearl Harbor drawing the United States into World War II.
Even Boston Red Sox fans had to feel some love for the New York Yankees as they represented their damaged but defiant city in the World Series.
Football season was also delayed due to the attacks, along with the opening of the brand new Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. When fans finally made their way to the stadium, it was with heavy hearts, but also with a renewed spirit of patriotism and resolve.
We were reminded that fall, and in the months and years to follow, that even though our hometown colors may be black and gold or orange and brown, the colors that really matter are the ones we all share: red, white and blue.
Honoring our military heroes, police and firefighters has become standard at American sporting events in the wake of 9/11. While we are a nation that idolizes our sports heroes, we have found a renewed appreciation for those who put their lives on the line every day.
Theirs is not a battle for bragging rights, but rather a fight for freedom. Their wins are often unnoticed, but the losses they endure are unfathomable and permanent.
Those who have fought the fight against terrorism through the last decade, both here at home and around the world are our country's truest champions. This week's victory over Al-Qaida has proven America's determination, and given us a reason to remember and rejoice.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@ BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column runs on Tuesdays.