However, on Saturday night, September 11, I went with a friend to the Joe to watch the Valley Cats beat Brooklyn in the first game of the playoffs. It was a night of mixed emotions as I spent much of my youth in Ebbets Field rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now I was rooting against a team from Brooklyn.
Sitting in front of us was a father with two sons - probably about 8 and 10. At the end of the game I heard him tell them - "No we can't go to Brooklyn to see the next game." I wanted to tell him that based on my personal experience they are now hooked on baseball forever.
That game made me realize that indeed some of my earliest memories of my father was him taking me to Ebbets Field and teaching me to love the game of baseball. As I grew older I would go to Ebbets Field whenever possible. I would even go to a place named Dexter Park where the Bushwick Bombers, a team on the level of the Valley Cats - would play what was then called semi-pro ball. I was and remain hooked on what is the most American of sports.
At the start of the seventh inning on Saturday a barbershop quartet sang "God Bless America" and after the game an awesome fireworks display was offered to the Ray Charles rendition of "America." It was a perfect way to honor 9/11. Baseball, hot dogs, lots of little kids, fireworks and a touch of patriotism.
On the ride home it was impossible not to compare this evening of wholesome Americana that celebrated our nations values to the hideous debate surrounding the area near ground zero. You can't enter that debate without hearing someone utter "hallowed ground."
For me Ebbets Field was once hallowed ground. Now it's a housing development. That loss of a ball park did nothing to diminish the wonderful memories of a youth rooting for his heroes. The beauty of life is we move on and we find new hallowed ground. Saturday night I thought of the Joe as hallowed ground.
The lesson I learned is geography isn't hallowed ground. It's what happens at that space. Whether it be baseball, theater or religious worship - it is the purity of the event that makes it special.
The United States is "hallowed ground" because as a geographical entity we permit magic to happen wherever good people congregate.