At every wrestling duel or tournament I’ve been to this year the National Anthem has been sung, and this week was no different. Unfortunately, I knew the teenage girl was in trouble the moment she started. Her first note was way higher than it needed to be. I stood there with my hand over heart hoping she had a much higher range than most. She had a decent sound as she move through the first part of the song until she got to the “rocket’s red glare.” Her strained voice cracked on the final high note of that measure, and the extended silence that followed in the gym was palpable. I heard a shuddering breath over the microphone and wished I could send her the strength to keep going. If she quit and ran away now, the mistake would haunt her forever.
“Just finish,” I whispered even though I was too far away for her to hear me. “It’ll be okay.”
Thankfully, she did start again. Through welling tears, she pushed on all the way to end. I’m sure with every note she sung she wished she could take it all back and start over again, but some of the most invaluable lesson we learn happen when things don’t go perfect. That’s also when you find out how strong you really are. One day, I hope this young lady tries again to put herself out there, maybe even take another crack at the National Anthem. And like she showed all of us that evening, I hope she keeps having the courage to finish everything she starts.