Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canadian...and Proud of It.

I got to sleep in today. Well, if you call 7:30 a.m. sleeping in. For me, it was blissful. To wake up without the BEEEEEEP! BEEEEEP! BEEEEEP! of my very annoying alarm was a true treat. I came downstairs, made coffee (Canadian Blend), and sat down to listen to my happy kids and the wind in the trees. For the first time in what seems like forever, I had no one to wake up, no one to make lunches for, and no where that I HAVE to be today. Aaaaaaah...

But I will in no way forget WHY I get this treat. It has nothing to do with me deserving a break (although I'd like to think I do). Nor is it simply wearing red and white and eating beavertails.

Today I'm wearing yellow. I'll admit, it's a first for me. But without the yellow ribbons, red and white might be something very different.

I had the privilege three years ago to take a trip to France with my family. We spent New Year's eve in a beautiful chateau near the Loire. We ate escargot and mushrooms in a cave. We drank wine. We spoke french. And then we took a small detour.

Outside of the village of Sailly, near Cantimpre, there is a wide expanse of farmer's fields. In the middle of one of them is a walled cemetery with rows of white stones. Near the back, in the left hand corner, is a gravestone marked "Lewis Ward Love". He was my uncle.

I never knew Lewis Ward Love. In fact, he died before even my mother was born. But I was the first member of his family to visit his grave. As I stood there, the bitter January wind stinging my cheeks, I had a glimpse of what it meant to be Canadian. My kids were with me. My husband was beside me. The wide open sky held only birds. And in front of me was a man I never knew, buried in a cemetary miles away from home nearly a hundred years before, so that I could have the privilege of walking free on this earth.

So today I wear the yellow ribbon. Yes, for my wonderful husband who is spending Canada Day overseas. But also for Lewis Ward Love, an unknown soldier in a distant grave. I am proud of both of them.

Being Canadian isn't just the shmoltzy wearing of sytlized maple leaves. It's snowsuits and swimsuits. It's city streets and quiet fields. It's smiling at a stranger. It's sitting here, writing words that mean something to me, without fear of repercussion. It's being willing to stand up for what you believe in, even it means facing your own fears. It's the rows of people who line the highway when a brave soldier comes home. And it's standing by the plane when that soldier is carried on.

Today I celebrate all of these things. And as the fireworks go off tonight I'll be standing proud.

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