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Friday, 11 May 2012

The Power of Symbols

Yesterday Dave and I walked over to the Canadian War Museum to take part in a ceremony in which one of our close friends was being honoured.  He was one of fifty NATO veterans awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal.

It was a moving ceremony---military-like but not intimidatingly so---attended by families and friends whose pride just made the large room, in which we were surrounded by tanks and other vehicles of war, almost warm.

I tend to be flooded with memory when I am at that museum.  So many people I knew and loved are represented there and I wasn't surprised to feel teary when Merv walked up to be medalled.  I was surprised though when one of the veterans, a woman in her forties, in a wheelchair, passed us.  She alone of all the veterans was wearing the blue beret, the NATO beret, and seeing it brought back vivid memories of my father, who was always so proud of, and thankful for, his service in the Congo.

That, rather than his WWII service, seemed to define him, seemed to make clear his beliefs and his determination to be a just and thoughtful world citizen.  He would hate to hear me say that because he was modest and wouldn't think of himself in those terms, but that doesn't stop me today.  I only wish I'd had the clarity to see him that way when I was younger.

So this morning, I'm thankful to Merv, not just because he spent his life in such an honourable way, not just because he's been so important to our family for such a long time and not just because he was cute enough to be introduced to and to marry one of my best friends, but because he provided an opportunity for me to feel close to my father, in a very unexpected and profound way.

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