Yes, I know - it's July 2nd as I write this. I hope you enjoyed your Canada Day as much as I did. For me, the day was spent in a business conference. That may seem rather strange, but to me, I couldn't have had a better celebration. While the day was filled with information on business, product information, launch dates, etc., Canada's birthday (which happened to be shared by one of our guest speakers) cropped up many times. Even our guest speakers from the US found ways to work into their speeches, what a privilege it is to live in such a great country.
One of the most touching moments for me, however, as after the supper break. The evening portion was about to begin and the conference room was in darkness, with only shadows being visible. On stage, one of those shadows coalesced into the form of a man in uniform, and a booming drill-sergeant voice range out, calling orders to a colour party. The spotlight sought out the back of the room, where the colour party began their march through the audience to the stage, accompanied by martial music. In front was an RCMP officer in dress uniform, carrying the Canadian flag. Behind him was a man in a naval uniform, a woman in an army uniform followed, and she in turn was followed by a second RCMP officer. It wasn't until they - and the spotlight - reached the stage that I could finally see and recognize the officer with the booming voice, in his air force uniform, as my own friend and mentor.
Once in position, they were joined by a singer who led us in singing Oh, Canada. Now, I'll readily admit that these sorts of things always get me very emotional, and this day was no exception. I was so choked up, I could do little more than mouth the words as we sang Oh, Canada, and I was wiping away tears as my friend and the colour party marched off the stage.
While references and positive comments about Canada peppered the speeches of pretty much everyone who graced the stage, one speaker in particular sticks with me. US author, Dr. Steve Price, was one of our speakers. Near the end of his time, he deviated from his planned speech to describe what, in his words, was a moment of epiphany. He had arrived the night before and, as is his practice, he went to the conference centre, the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, to familiarize himself with it. This conference centre overlooks a river and has several lookout points beside it. He and his family stopped to enjoy the view at one of these, then took note of what else was there. This particular spot is actually a memorial that includes flags, a perpetual torch, and plaques. He described his feelings as he read the plaques, which listed the names of all Edmonton citizens who gave their lives in WWI, WWII and the Korean Conflict. Two other plaques are part of the memorial. One reads
"Freedom is a privilege."
The other reads
"Remember and Learn."
He went on to describe his feelings as he read these plaques, as well as his experiences with his Canadian hosts. Then, in a voice choked with emotion, he ended his speech with,
"Now I know what it means to be a Canadian."