Sweet Super Bowl memories

Ask football fans about Super Bowl V -- played Jan. 17, 1971, in Miami -- and they will tell you it was the first NFL championship game as we know it today after the National Football League and the American Football League merged. In front of nearly 80,000 fans, the Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys by the score of 16-13 on a field goal by Jim O'Brien with seconds remaining. The game had plenty of star power -- Johnny Unitas, Walt Garrison, Dan Reeves, to name a few.

But the star of the halftime show came from Cape Girardeau.

The Southeast Missouri State College Golden Eagles performed, under the direction of LeRoy Mason, for nearly six minutes. The climax of the show featured Anita Bryant, who sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" to a special orchestration prepared for the Golden Eagles.

More than 160 young men and women flew on a chartered flight from Municipal Airport to Miami two days before the game. For many, the trip was their first on an airplane. Pictures from the sendoff show bright-eyed band members clutching their luggage and uniform boxes, looking for all the world like their entire life is before them.

The performance went off without a hitch, and media accounts were glowing. In a last-minute change, the band got an extra minute for its halftime performance. They took full advantage, noting the year was Missouri's sesquicentennial and inviting the nation to visit the Show Me State.

While performing for a national audience might be the highlight of some people's life, members of the Golden Eagles took their time in the spotlight in stride. Business as usual for the renowned marching band.

Hindsight, though, has shown how important not only the performance but membership in the band actually was to many of the young men and women. Former band members to this day point to being part of something larger than themselves and learning valuable life lessons from the experience. Teamwork. Dedication. Community.

Playing in the band and having success at the highest levels gave many members confidence to tackle challenges through the decades. They remain thankful for the opportunity to wear the Golden Eagles uniform.

Fifty years ago, the Golden Eagles were the halftime show at Super Bowl V.

Today, the music may have faded away, but the memories are just as sweet.