Friday, November 12, 2010

Proud To Be Canadian

CBC TV gets a couple of things right. Hockey. Investigative journalism. Hockey.  Did I mention hockey.

What it also get right it covering the Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa.

I was home yesterday (don’t mean to brag) and tuned into the Ceeb to watch. There on my set the National War Memorial gleamed under a brilliant sky. Throngs of people spilled onto the street and around the memorial. There’s something about Remembrance Day that gives the Parliament buildings a sharper feel, a more regal presence. War is both ancient and timeless and Canada, our young tender nation, has a footnote in the annals of history. Our people were there … and our people are there.

That we are able to pray as a nation together on this day is a treat. We’re not comfortable evoking God in public (let the Americans do that), but every now and then mentioning that old chestnut is reassuring. It classes up the occasion. I did wonder though, seeing how both a minister and a rabbi spoke, if an imam would be the closer. I wonder if Veteran Affairs will hear anything about it.

The 21-gun salute, bagpipe laments and speeches aside, what choked me up were the faces of the veterans. Nothing beats live television for this.

While the words flowed from the minister, the camera focused on elderly faces, full of dignity, honour and beauty. We don’t see faces like those in our media. We see faces plumped up and smoothed from Botox. We see young faces, Photoshopped faces, vapid faces — these are the faces we celebrate on a daily basis. So how breathtaking it was to see wrinkled, weathered visages full of genuine emotion. The camera captured one elderly woman, her hair shoulder length and white, soft around her countenance. Her blue eyes gazed off, remembering another time. She was beautiful, and the camera operator who captured her gaze thought so too.

The turnout for Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country was higher than usual yesterday. The spectacular weather might have had something to do with it. I like to think it’s because baby boomers and GenXers are getting older and realize the generations that went before made sacrifices we would never make. Grit is the word. They had grit and we have gripe. Might be flippant to say, but I almost envy them their history. Their times seemed to mean more than ours.

All in all, a good day to be a proud Canadian.