“At the Winter Olympics in upstate New York in February 1980, a motley band of American ice hockey players, on their path to the gold medal, upset the powerful Soviet team. The most lasting image of the games was goalie Jim Craig draped in the American flag, and the Stars and Stripes began to come out across the country. The sports columnist Pete Axthelm interviewed a woman who ‘hadn’t seen so many flags since the 1960s. When we were burning them.'”
From the story, “Seasons Of The Flag: After years of ups and downs, Old Glory has just made its greatest comeback,” by Stuart Lutz, in the February/March 2002 issue of American Heritage magazine, the issue released in the wake of patriotic 9/11 and patriotic renewal
Jim Craig reflects on the “Miracle on Ice”:
The 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY took place when the Cold War was at its chilliest, and unease and lack of confidence abounded in America. Yes, the Soviet Union army had just invaded Afghanistan, our economy was weak, and our citizens were held hostage in Iran.
Against this backdrop, on February 22, the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team took on the invincible Soviet hockey machine. We didn’t have a chance, of course … until we did – and beat the team that couldn’t be beat, and won the game that couldn’t be won.. Two days later, we defeated Finland to clinch the gold medal, and complete a journey that achieved a goal that, at the outset of our journey, almost everybody felt was impossible to achieve.
I am forever grateful to have played a role in the “Miracle on Ice” – an event and episode that raised the spirits of our nation, and gave it hope, at a time when it needed both. I am forever grateful that history and fate conspired to – in the joy and minutes following our win over Finland – have cameras capture images of me draped in the American flag, Old Glory, and also me searching the stands for my father.
What happened on a sheet of ice in Lake Placid, was a victory of men in sport, and also a triumph for a people and a republic.