Admittedly, I was never much of a football fan until I saw New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady throw the football. Then when I saw Randy Moss catch it, something happened, like when Paul was knocked off the horse.

The Super Bowl has come to represent the cycle of the seasons in its 48 years, as baseball did dacades ago, before Ted Williams moved to Texas. But this has come to define us. We call now on winter’s end with the Super Bowl. Spring will soon be here, and there will be other holidays. Generally speaking, here in America, there are three shared celebrations of the soul and psyche — Easter, Halloween and Christmas — and three shared celebrations of our secular American condition — the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Super Bowl Sunday.

Super Bowl day is our American day, in the seasonal cycle that forms us together as a people. President Obama should declare it a national holiday. 

With former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates's excellent new book, we begin to define our character in the rising century. Conservatives might begin to yield on the cloying, provincial and adolescent “exceptionalism.” As Mr. Rogers explained it, we are all exceptional in our own ways. But as Americans we are indeed different than any others in the world: They play soccer. We play football.

That explains to us something deep and mythical, a dimension conservatives especially are blind to, and they have flooded the Web with bombast when I have suggested it before. We are different because when we came to America we left our pasts behind. We came here burdened and alone, but we were free, free to start again, not from what we had inherited, but from what we take here from what we find and make here of ourselves. I counted back, and the last time my family had a fresh start was in the 11th century.

We have taken Emerson’s American dictum to heart. We have gone alone each one of us “a newborn bard of the Holy Ghost” to “the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.” In America, we had no choice. From here there is no going back.

Like the Lone Ranger, we cannot remember our past. We have no past to define ourselves. We are the Masked Man. Our European, African and Asian histories are lost to the sands of time, lost to us. Our future is uncertain, but it is our own. That is why we are different from everyone else. Theirs, those abroad who play soccer, live exclusively with the past, and it will not let them alone. We, who play football, have only a future.

And we celebrate that together on the day of the Super Bowl. The game’s stellar commentators — Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Jimmy, Boomer, Terry, Chris, Shannon, Coach Cowher and the others — are the closest thing we have here to a venerable Council of Elders. 

It should be a great halftime show this year. Bruno Mars seems the perfect act to express our American story. It suits our era as well. Others acts have been less than sterling. But if this day was officially sanctioned as an American holiday, more care would be taken. And the big-money marketing impulse to sell us someplace else where we don’t belong would vanish.

That's as it should be, because it is our game and ours exclusively. We celebrate who we are and what we, and we alone, are becoming.