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Friday, July 1, 2011

5 Moments of Gratitude for Canada

1) I remember wiping tears away when I played Dan Hill's Canada in the house of a Chilean friend.

2) I remember being surprised to see a Canadian flag outside a museum in the Southern U.S. and instantly choking up with love and pride looking up at that Maple Leaf. It had been a half year since I left home. I wouldn't be back for another year. I was a mess for about five minutes.

3) I remember being in Texas and proudly keeping my arms at my side one hot July 4, while a community club full of Americans recited the Pledge of Allegiance. We were all grateful for who we were. None more than I.

4) I remember talking with a friend's wife from Detroit, who said her sense of personal safety increases the minute she crosses into Canadian airspace.

5) I remember being embarrassed taking two Cuban refugees to a hockey game in the Winnipeg Arena. They courageously hopped the plane at Gander, Newfoundland, weeks earlier and asked for political asylum. That night, half the crowd didn't know the new words to O Canada and the other half were too Canadian to sing it with any passion. They look puzzled at the half-hearted delivery and I apologized for us.

So, I feel a deep love for this breathtaking, largely empty country of only 34.5 million. It's a love not borne out of adversity or testing - or even anything as dramatic as military service in some far-away land.

Rather, it's a deep recognition that I have been truly blessed to live in a tolerant, caring, safe, democratic country. One that cares enough for its citizens to provide them a safety net when they're down and opportunities to get ahead with hard work.

I'm fortunate to have every nationality and ethnicity under the sun standing beside me. To be born in a place with natural resources other countries would give their eye teeth for. To share my life with family and friends who enjoy the same blessings as I do because of our geography.

We're living the world's dream up here - but I'm not sure enough of us know it.

So, happy birthday Canada. Enjoy your 144th.

We all owe you big time.

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