Phew!  After a whirlwind three weeks, we’re back in the land where the mountains meet the ocean and the air is filled with a clean, slightly salty, and entirely crisp freshness that we’d come to take for granted.  We’ve not fully overcome our jetlag, nor the awe and confusion that comes from such a busy vacation, but, with crayons in hand, we’ve gone to work on our calendars and created a detailed plan for the remaining 7 weeks of training (Okay, maybe that’s just me and not Stewart. As he’s mentioned in previous blogs, I love lists, order, diagrams and plans.  He’s just trying to overcome jetlag and stay awake on public transit so that he doesn’t miss his stop again on his way to work!).

One of the most notable memories of last week came on our walk through London’s parks and among the many memorials located there. I must confess, after 4 miles of walking (broken up with a few pit stops in old historical pubs – to take in the culture of course!) and literally dozens and dozens of memorials, statues, plaques, notable buildings, etc, I became somewhat flippant about what I was seeing. The conversation eroded to something like this:

Robin: “So, who is this guy?”

Stewart: “He was a famous British Army Field Marshall.”

Robin: “Another one?  Isn’t this the 8th one we’ve seen in 10 minutes?”

Stewart: “Yes, but this is Monty! He’s very famous. Our family’s dog is named after him.”

Robin: “Does that mean we need another picture?  I’ve taken 410 now.  There’s no way we will be able to remember what all of these are when we get back. “

Stewart: “Just smile and look pretty.”

All that history/memorial fatigue disappeared when we reached the Canada Memorial. Actually, it was initially replaced with frustration and a little bit of disgust.

You see, it was a rather warm and sunny day in London, and for those of you not familiar with the Canada Memorial, it is a beautifully crafted, bronzed water feature.  Despite signs reading “Out of respect, please do not play on statue” the desire was too much for many children (and some adults) and this beautiful memorial had turned into a waterpark.  I was quite outraged and muttered my displeasure quite un-Canadianly…

But then, over my self-righteous mumbles, I could hear the laughter of the children splashing.  I listened more closely and could make out at least four different languages being spoken from faces lit up by smiles. I can not speak for the Veterans for whom this Canada Memorial represents.  I dare not speak for the families and friends of soldiers lost or wounded (be it on the inside or out).  But the carefree innocence in the face of the little girl, jumping and splashing on the engraved maple leaves, moved me more than I can say. In my humble opinion, she added a quality to the Memorial beyond that of any talented architect.  And I’m grateful to have had the freedom of mind and body to see it.

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