Monday, June 05, 2006


It was family reunion time in North Carolina this past weekend, just south of Camp Lejune, with two sons and one daughter-in-law and one grandchild-in-waiting (ultrasound pictures for all to see). Close by was "the Sound of Freedom" (as they say near every military air base, when the big choppers come and go) though we didn't catch any noise from the suburbs. The expectant couple will leave for San Diego shortly, and deployment will be from Miramar. Rumors have begun to circulate as to when that will be and from which battalion, but nothing written in stone yet. The word "Haditha" was not uttered, but "Murtha" was murmured unsmilingly. Some of us are actually waiting for the facts!

There's celebrity, and then there's Royalty
We drove to the Raleigh-Durham airport for our return flight, and were uneasily trying to digest the execrable products of an A & W hamburger place (don't ever do this) while waiting to board, when the incoming Toronto flight disgorged its passengers. And there, without ceremony or entourage, was genuine Canadian royalty: toting his own overnighter-suitcase was CBC's Ron MacLean accompanied by the impeccably natty Don Cherry. A little crowd collected as the two posed for pictures and signed autographs, and we immediately approached them to join the fun. It was like a small, private celebration within the Canadian family, attracting no attention from most of the assembled travelers.

Despite having come in on a cramped commuter jet where there is no First Class even if you wanted it, it was clear that Don always feels he must travel "in costume"-- the specially-tailored high collar shirt and throat-pinching tie with the one-of-a-kind colourful sport coat (this one was somewhat subdued, in a royal-blue-on-white fine brocade). The kings of Hockey Night in Canada couldn't have been more friendly and accommodating-- Ron, as always, accepting his second-banana status with the greatest grace. Don chuckled grimly when I told him I wanted to pose with the Governor-General and, as always, expressed his support on learning that we had been visiting a son in the Marine Corps. Don knows what's what in the world, and he's been consistently ahead of the game as far as support for the troops is concerned.

Listen to me, you kids out there: a major, MAJOR thrill and privilege.