It’s a tradition that dates back, according to one report from NPR back to 1862: The performing of the national anthem before sporting events. Throughout the decades there’s been game-stealing performances, flubs and incredible displays of unity. It’s been a chance for stars to display immense amounts of talent.
But it’s also been an incredible time for memorable moments from fans. So, in honor of Flag Day, we look back at some of the most memorable performances — by fans and ordinary people before the game — in the past few years:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers fans
Thanks to a tradition that began in 2016, fans were asked to join in on singing the national anthem as a group instead of ceding the spotlight to a performer. It’s produced some amazing moments like this one in 2017:
And this in 2016:
2. Kent State men’s basketball and its fans
Encouraging fans to participate isn’t just something that happens in Cleveland. Shortly after the 2016 election, the Kent State men’s basketball team invited fans to sing with them as a sign of unity and diversity.
3. Mo Cheeks steps in
When the national anthem singer Natalie Gilbert, then 13, lost her words at an Oklahoma City Thunder game in 2003 assistant coach Mo Cheeks stepped in to help out. She went on to study at the American Musical Theater Workshop, according to the Oklahoman. They recalled the moment in 2009 to that newspaper:
The coach put his arm around her, assured her, “It’s all right.” He raised the mic to her mouth and helped her remember the words.
Gilbert’s confidence slowly returned. The crowd joined in.
“O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming,” sang 20,000 strong, players and coaches included.
All together, they finished with a bang.
“It was like a guardian angel had come and put his arm around my shoulder and helped me get through one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had,” said Gilbert.
4. Elizabeth Hughes and the fans at the Norfolk (Va.) Admirals minor league hockey game
The 8-year-old was halfway through her stunning performance before the game when her microphone cut out. Without missing a beat, the crowd joined in and finished the song with her.
“I was disappointed that I didn’t get to sing my high note,” Elizabeth later told ABC News. “But I was still very happy.”
The young prodigy did get to finish her performance in an interview with NPR.
5. 101-year-old veteran John Moon
He’s the oldest known living Marine from Iwo Jima. And earlier this year, Moon performed the national anthem at his alma mater.