With his performance of “God Bless America” during Game 3 of the 2001 World Series, NYPD officer Daniel Rodriguez comforted a nation still grieving in the wake of 9/11. It felt like a timeless moment. Instead, it proved fleeting.
Twenty years later, the reasons for that tell a story of the political divisions and embellished patriotism that now polarize American sports. The weight of it all can be felt through the struggles of Rodriguez, who’s still trying to bless people with his voice as America attempts to rediscover its own.
Join Washington Post sports columnist Jerry Brewer, sports features writer Kent Babb and audio producer Bishop Sand as they explore how a man and a nation have attempted to heal and find meaning after trauma and tragedy.
Listen to the podcast and read more below.
A symbol dressed in blue
Jerry, Kent and Bishop revisit Daniel Rodriguez’s iconic performance and try to understand what made it so powerful. Then they go looking for the real Rodriguez and hear how an aspiring opera singer became a policeman who catapulted to fame after a national tragedy.
A prayer for our country
Jerry, Kent and Bishop visit Daniel in Los Angeles to see what his life is like now and examine the origins of the song that made him famous. Then they look at what happened to him, the song and the country in the years after 9/11, as shifting political winds drove Americans further apart.