Thursday, February 21, 2008

Guest Post: The Miracle on Ice Remembered

One of the most memorable things from my childhood was watching on TV with my father the 1980 US Hockey team's games with the Soviets and Finland.

The games were on tape delay and I couldn't stay up that late, so each morning during their amazing run my father reported the wins from the previous night. This group of college guys beat Czechoslovakia, then Romania, then West Germany. With each day I saw my dad's interest and excitement wax and, in my own way, I perceived that more than the victory of a mere sports team inspired his mood.

But I was too young to fully grasp what was going on. I was allowed to stay up to see the game with the Soviets, and we even stayed home from church Sunday morning to see the team beat Finland for the gold medal.

Only in the past few years have I been able to understand what it all meant and this, ironically, has been aided by my being a Russian Orthodox priest.

I now pastor many people who lived under that oppressive Soviet regime. I baptize their children, I marry them, I counsel them, I visit them in the hospital, and I celebrate Liturgy for them and give them Communion. In other words, I am the conduit for them to practice that which was most important to them, the thing that was taken away from them, and the thing that, because of the societal shift of mood of the American people, was given back to them: their Faith.

The American people changed because of this collection of young hockey players and what they accomplished. Ronald Reagan was elected president in part, I believe, because of these kids. America was no longer able to suffer a “wimpy” president and his approach to a world in crisis. Reagan delivered an American victory in the Cold War, brought down that atheist regime, and helped return the Faith to a suffering people. And, all this, in my humble opinion, started in a small town in upstate New York twenty-eight years ago.

In the words of the announcer for that fateful game with the Soviets on February 22, 1980: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”


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