The Top 10 Most Patriotic Moments on TV

By  | 

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, we here at NGTV sat down and talked about what patriotism means to each of us. And, of course, since we are really interested in television what better way to talk about the subject than by highlighting the top 10 patriotic moments on television.

While there are shows that focus on the military (The Unit or JAG), war time (M.A.S.H., China Beach or Tour of Duty) or even an attack of terrorism (Jericho), real life events seem, most times, to be the most palpable and moving moments in our history.

That being said, the following are the top 10 moments in television history that we here at NGTV feel have been the most patriotic.

10. Whitney Houston Singing the National Anthem at Super Bowl 25 – The singing of the national anthem at sporting events is commonplace in the United States. But this performance, which took place on January 27, 1991,wasn’t unlike any others before or since: it happened at the height of the Gulf War and it was a stirring and moving performance.

Mary Lou Retton courtesy of

Mary Lou Retton courtesy of

9. Mary Lou Retton Winning at the Olympics – During the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Mary Lou Retton became the first female gymnast from outside Eastern Europe to win the all-around title, earning perfect 10s on floor exercise and vault. She also won four additional medals during these games.

8. Hands Across AmericaThis national event which took place on Sunday, May 25, 1986, included approximately 7 million participants who held hands in a human chain for 15 minutes along a path across the continental USA. Celebrities, elected officials, musicians and performers and many more were among the participants who helped to raise nearly $100 million dollars to fight famine in Africa and hunger and homelessness in the United States.

7. John F. Kennedy Inauguration – The 35th (and youngest) President of the United States was sworn into office on January 20, 1961, making a Inaugural Speech that has become legend. One of the most moving moments includes “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

6. Liberty WeekendThis celebration of the then recent restoration and centennial of the Statue of Liberty was held from July 3 through July 6, 1986, included opening ceremonies with many dignitaries, a naval revue of over 20 battleships and sailing ships, orchestral concerts, fireworks displays and an address by then President Reagan.

Cover of Time Magazine on July 4, 1976

Cover of Time Magazine on July 4, 1976

5. The United States Bicentennial – Our country’s 200th anniversary was held on July 4, 1976 with countless events all over the nation (many of which had started approximately a year before) and eventually included a televised fireworks display in Washington D.C. presided over by then President Gerald Ford.

Martin Luther King courtesy of NY Times

Martin Luther King courtesy of NY Times

4. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” SpeechThis historic speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which was televised live on August 28, 1963 may have been viewed lightly at the time by a majority of the nation, but has become an instrumental moment not only in Black History but also for our country.

3. Barack Obama’s Inauguration – His election into the Presidency – becoming the 44th President on January 20, 2009 – was not only a monumental moment in American history, but was also inspirational to every generation because of his moving inaugural speech.

2. Apollo 11 Shuttle Landing on the Moon – In July 1969 the first mission to the moon was conducted by Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. Mr. Armstrong’s first steps on the moon were chronicled on TV and his proclamation, “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is perhaps one of the most memorable phrases in US history.

"Miracle on Ice" courtesy of Wikipedia

"Miracle on Ice" courtesy of Wikipedia

1. USA Hockey Team Winning Against the Soviet Union – “Do you believe in miracles?” became the “war cry” for the country when a team of amateur and collegiate hockey players won the gold medal round of ice hockey on February 22 at the 1980 Winter Olympics against the Soviet Union team, who were considered, at that time, the best hockey team in the world.

You may agree or disagree, you may feel we totally missed the mark or completely overlooked an important event. We welcome your polite and enthusiastic comments.

Please have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

Using her favorite online handle, Rueben is an East Coast-bred gal who is now a permanent Californian and a lifelong tv-oholic. She watches at least 25 TV shows a week, goes to the movies as often as possible, listens to music every waking moment, reads every day and “plays” on the internet every chance she can. Some of her current favorite TV shows are Outlander, Blindspot, The Blacklist, Killjoys, The Brave, The Shannara Chronicles, Good Witch, When Calls the Heart, The 100, Jane the Virgin, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Fosters. Follow her at @ruebenrambling or contact her at

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The 50 most influential US political pundits at northern ireland