July 4th is a day when we celebrate our freedom, our liberty, our way of life.
Throughout its history, some of America’s most tear-jerking, profound, and proudest moments have come from the field, the gridiron, and the court.
These moments have not only embodied their respective time periods, but have influenced them as well.
Here are the top 10 patriotic sports moments in American sports history.
Amid a seriously injured ankle, Kerri Strug refused to let down her teammates in the 1996 Olympic all-around competition
After she sustained an injury on her first attempt at the vault, the Americans had still not guaranteed a gold medal.
Strug would complete a second attempt, landing on one foot and securing herself a spot in Olympic history as she clinched the gold for the U.S.
The three brothers of offensive linemen Joe Andruzzi were all part of the rescue effort following the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Centers on September 11th.
It is estimated that the Andruzzis knew over 200 of the 343 firefighters that died during the aftermath.
After Andruzzi reached out to the firefighting community, he helped lead the Patriots to an improbable Super Bowl victory over the favored St. Louis Rams, giving the Pats their first ever championship.
Twelve years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, arguably the best boxer that ever lived proved that he could still bring the world to their knees in awe.
In 1996, Ali shocked the Olympic audience when he stepped out for the ceremonial lighting of the torch.
Ali was also awarded a second gold medal, after he said he threw the first one in the Ohio River because of being denied service at a segregated restaurant.
Even though he had little control of his shaky movements, he had complete control of the world’s attention and fascination for that moment.
Needing a win to advance to the second round of the World Cup, the US had their backs up against the wall a couple weeks ago, going into stoppage time tied at 0.
Landon Donovan scored the game winning goal in the 91st minute, springing the U.S. to a 1-0 victory against Algeria.
Yes, that superhuman raced for us.
Diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996, which had spread to his brain and his lungs, he was back on the cycle track three years later in a dominant comeback.
He won a record seven consecutive Tour de Frances and Athlete of the Year awards from ESPN, ABC, the AP, and Sports Illustrated throughout his career.
Despite doping allegations, he has never tested positive for any illegal substances.
Adolph Hitler watched in disgust as a black athlete dominated the Olympic track and field competition in Berlin.
Jesse Owens, amid a hostile environment and in a country whose regime deplored his race, won four gold medals.
Owens’ class and performance was unforgettable, as he took home well-deserved hardware to the U.S. while also becoming the first African-American athlete to endorse a product (Adidas).
The city of New York did not fold after the 9/11 attacks, and neither did the Yankees in the 2001 World Series.
After losing the first two games in Arizona, the series headed back to New York.
The Yanks won the next game, but were down by two going into the bottom of the ninth in Game Four.
Tino Martinez hit a two-run shot in the ninth, and Derek Jeter’s “Mr. November” home run gave the Yankees the win in the tenth.
The same scenario happened in Game Five, with Scott Brosius tying it up in the ninth and Alfonzo Soriano driving in the winning run in the 12th.
The Diamondbacks would win the series, but the city of New York rallied behind the two comeback victories and showed that they would persevere in spite of adversity.
Pat Tillman turned down a $3.6 million contract offer from the Arizona Cardinals in order to enlist in the U.S. Army and fight in Afghanistan in 2002.
Tillman was killed by friendly fire on April 24, 2004.
Definitely the most somber part of the list, Tillman demonstrated the highest form of courage and gave the ultimate sacrifice.
The world of sports, and more importantly America, lost a hero that day.
Tillman embodied the heroism that every fallen soldier has shown in defense of our freedom.
President Bush threw out the first pitch of Game Three of the 2001 World Series in New York.
Only about seven weeks after September 11, Bush walked out of the New York dugout with no visible security, an FDNY fleece and a baseball.
Bush wound up from the rubber and threw a strike to Jorge Posada.
The symbolism of Bush’s courageous appearance out in the middle of a baseball field in front of a shaken city was enough to give the Babe himself goosebumps.
Lake Placid, Herb Brooks, defeated Soviets–need I say more?
The USSR hockey team came in as heavy favorites to win it all in the 1980 Olympics, and rightfully so.
The U.S., on the other hand, was made up of purely collegiate and amateur players with no professional experience.
As the two teams faced off in the semi-finals, Mike Eurozoine scored the go-ahead shot with ten minutes to go.
The U.S. victory was one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports, as they would go on to defeat Sweden to win the gold medal.