As long as I can remember, I’ve always felt like I had the extreme fortune to be born in the best country on earth. I’ve always described myself as an extremely proud Canadian, something that often seemed to put me in the minority. At least in this regard, (and many would probably argue in many regards) I’ve never felt the ‘Canadian reserve’ that has so often been used to describe our people, and I’ve often wished that we were not so self-conscious, so self-deprecating, that we would stand up and lay claim to what I’ve always felt was our rightful position as one of the world’s great nations. Not great powers (the US, Russia, China, they can battle over who belongs on that list), but great nations; beautiful, friendly, concerned with our citizens and those of the world at large, willing to take a stand on issues that are deemed important. Not perfect, not even close, but willing to admit to our imperfections, and take measures to fix them.
Maybe that’s why I’ve always been such a huge fan of the Olympics;
in a country where flag-waving is often seen as unseemly, seen as
something too American (and ‘not American’ has always been one of the
ways we have defined ourselves), this was a chance to wave the flag, to
cheer on our athletes, even as they so often struggled for success on
the world stage. To me, perhaps the single most definitive Olympic
moment (at least until Sidney’s goal) was Simon Whitfield standing on
top of the Olympic podium, tears streaming down his face as he sang
along with O Canada. That, to me, has always been the pinnacle of
success, listening to your anthem because you were the best in the world
at what you did. Outside of hearing Lizzie first cry and Lisa say “I
do,” I can’t imagine too many better feelings.
Because of this, seeing the flags, the crowds, the sea of red that
spread across the city and the country over the last couple of weeks has
been absolutely amazing. Considering the apparent mixed sentiments
towards the games that Vancouver and BC held, no one could have
predicted how we would rise up and embrace the Games, but embrace them
we did. Our ‘Glitch Games’, described by some as the worst ever a scant
two days in, overcame tragedy on the backs of the thousands of people
who jammed the streets, the concerts, the actual events, until our
athletes overcame their first week struggles and crowned the games with
final weekend triumph. Alex Bilodeau broke the drought, but to me the
turning point was Virtue and Moir, opening the floodgates that kept the
rings in Coal Harbour gold for most of the final week, culminating in a
moment that will live in Canadian history, as some 25 million of us
watched the hockey team claim gold, and then seemingly all converged on
the corner of Granville and Robson to celebrate, peacefully for once.
So many times those “where were you when…” moments are defined by
tragedies; this was one of those, and it was in triumph.
Let’s do ourselves, and our country, a favour; let’s take this love
of our country that we rediscovered, or just made public, and run with
it, carry it forward. Let’s not let beer commercials be the only things
that stir our pride; let’s not put on our Canada gear (and kudos to HBC
for giving us gear worth wearing) and pick up our flags every couple of
years, when the Olympics are on or our hockey team is playing; let’s
wear our hearts on our sleeves every day. Not over the top, not in your
face, not over the line that our American cousins cross too frequently;
just confident, and proud, of who we are and where we are from. Let’s
not make these two weeks something that happened, once. Let’s make them
something that changed us, forever.