Great patriotic moments in U.S. sports

Updated: November 10, 2009, 12:38 PM ET
ESPN.com

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[+] EnlargeTeam USA
Focus on Sport/Getty ImagesTeam USA celebrates its 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union on Feb. 22, 1980, at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics.

Patriotism seeps its way into most major sporting events, but only some truly special, memorable moments are especially patriotic. So here's our list of the 10 most patriotic events in U.S. sports history (in no particular order):

Jesse Owens dominates 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin
With Adolph Hitler using the Olympics as another tool to spread his Nazi propaganda, U.S. track star Jesse Owens was superior to all opponents in winning the 100 meters, long jump, 200 meters and the 4x100-meter relay.

1980 "Miracle on Ice" U.S. Olympic hockey team defeats Soviet Union
With the backdrop of the Cold War, a shaky economy and the Iran hostage crisis, an unlikely bunch of college kids pulled off the biggest upset in sports history by beating the defending Olympic champion Soviet Union en route to the gold medal in ice hockey.

Rick Monday snatches flag from two protesters about to burn it in Dodger Stadium outfield
On April 25, 1976, while playing center field for the Chicago Cubs, Rick Monday prevented two protesters from setting a U.S. flag on fire in left-center field of Dodger Stadium. "What those people were doing, and their concept of what they were trying to do, was wrong. That feeling was very strongly reinforced by six years in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. I still think it's wrong to do that." Monday told the Washington Post in 2006.

[+] EnlargeJoe Louis & Max Schmelling
Getty ImagesJoe Louis floors Max Schmeling during his first-round barrage June 22, 1938.

U.S. athletes carry the World Trade Center flag during the opening ceremonies of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics
Five months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, U.S. athletes and an honor guard of police officers and firefighters carried the tattered U.S. flag found at ground zero of New York's World Trade Center into the opening ceremonies at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The flag then flew over Rice-Eccles Stadium next to the Olympic flame during the Games.

Joe Louis beats Max Schmeling for heavyweight title
While the Nazis were gaining more and more of Europe's mainland, U.S. boxer Joe Louis avenged his 1936 loss to Max Schmeling with an extraordinary barrage of punches June 22, 1938. Louis won the fight on a technical knockout two minutes and four seconds into the first round.

Muhammad Ali lights the flame at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics
Muhammad Ali, one of the world's most beloved athletic greats and a 1960 Olympic boxing gold medalist, took the Olympic torch from four-time swimming gold medalist Janet Evans and lit the cauldron to start the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Ali
Getty ImagesMuhammad Ali's appearance to light the Olympic flame was one of the most memorable moments of the Atlanta games.

George Bush throws perfect strike first pitch before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series
On Oct. 30, 2001, a little more than a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks., President George W. Bush threw a strike across the plate for the ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium.

Chicago Stadium crowd noise during the national anthem at 1991 NHL All-Star Game
In the midst of the Gulf War on Jan. 19, 1991, the sold-out crowd at Chicago Stadium kept up deafening cheers during the singing of the national anthem in support of U.S. troops fighting in the Persian Gulf

Giant yellow ribbon wraps around the Superdome at Super Bowl XV for the Iran hostages
In honor of the U.S. hostages who were on their way home after the Iran hostage crisis had ended days earlier, a giant yellow ribbon was tied around the New Orleans Superdome on Jan. 25, 1981.

Mike Piazza hits home run to lift the Mets in the first baseball game in New York after Sept. 11 attacks
Mike Piazza hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning Sept. 21, 2001, to put the Mets up 3-2 en route to victory in the first baseball game in New York since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.