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Ronan Tynan: God Bless America

Jim SheridanCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2008

America was still in shock on Oct. 30, 2001 over the events of 9/11, when President George W. Bush took the mound at Yankee Stadium at the start of Game Three of the World Series and fired a strike to backup catcher Todd Green.

The crowd of 55,820 chanted "USA USA USA" as the President left the field. Most people remember that ceremonial first pitch, but to feel the full effect of patriotism one would have to have stayed tuned to the seventh inning stretch.

Ronan Tynan was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1960. He was born with deformed legs and had both legs amputated below the knees at age 20. He went on to become a physician, as well as winning 18 gold medals in the Paralympics. He held 14 world records.

His father encouraged him to take voice lessons and he won several prestigious awards in this field also. He became a member of The Irish Tenors, which led to him performing in New York, and eventually at Yankee Stadium.

No performance was as touching as that night at Yankee Stadium, just weeks after the attacks. As Ronan stood behind home plate and sang the first verse (the one that we don't normally hear,) of "God Bless America" a capella, the camera captured women, men, young and old with tears rolling down their faces. Some were tears of sadness but many, like mine, were mixed with tears of pride.

Ronan Tynan also sings at Buffalo Sabres games. You may have seen him at the Ice Bowl on New Years day with the Sabres playing the Pittsburgh Penguins outdoors.

We can all thank a man from Dublin, Ireland, a doctor, an athlete, and a tenor, for that night in late October 2001 for reminding us what it means to be an American.

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