Following Osama bin Laden’s reported death on Sunday, WWE announced that it would celebrate patriotism on the May 2, 2011 episode of Monday Night Raw. The program kicked off with former WWE ring announcer Lilian Garcia singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” who ten years earlier sang the U.S. National Anthem at the first public assembly following the September 11 attacks—the September 13, 2001 SmackDown taping in Houston, Texas. Just as ten years earlier, a thunderous “U-S-A” chant followed her rendition of the Anthem.
Garcia revealed during a post-Raw interview for AfterBuzz TV that her surprise appearance on Raw was due to numerous fans requesting to WWE on Twitter that she sing the Anthem—following a message she posted Sunday night concerning bin Laden’s death.
She explained, “When I tweeted about ‘my gosh, Osama bin Laden has been killed, this is justice finally for the families’, everybody started tweeting me, and they also started including @WWE in their tweets. And they kept saying, ‘Wow! We definitely wanna have Lilian singing and you gotta be there tomorrow night and everything’. I saw it, WWE saw it, and that’s how I got here tonight, because the idea got sparked by the fans on Twitter.”
Her appearance was on such short notice that she received a phone call from WWE about singing the Anthem on Raw the previous night at 9:30 p.m. PST—two hours following news of Laden’s death breaking. She hastily picked up a dress from Candice Michelle and with two hours of sleep, went on a cross-country flight from Los Angeles, California at 6:00 a.m. She arrived in Miami, Florida at 2:30 p.m. and managed to squeeze in a vocal lesson via Skype before arriving to the American Airlines Arena for the show.
Tough Enough Aftershow hosts Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle asked Garcia, who parted ways with WWE in September 2009, whether she will be leaving them to return to the organization. She replied, “Do not worry about it!”
“I love the WWE, but the road, I’m just not ready for the road! She continued, “It was great coming back tonight, and it was great seeing everyone and being a part of it again, but I’m definitely a TLC’er.”
Garcia thanked fans in a message on her official website for making her appearance possible.
“And thank you WWE Universe for all your tweets requesting me to sing!!! It is because of you that WWE & I heard you and made it possible!! It was a true honor for me and a night I will NEVER forget!”