Saturday, November 14, 2009


A quick blog about Remembrance Day and what it means to me and my feelings on how we celebrate it in Canada. This year it seemed more than ever there was a great focus on Remembrance Day not just the day but leading up to the day as well. I saw a number of news stories on schools that had veterans and Jewish war survivors in to talk to the students and not just High School and Junior High but grade school kids.

I saw a remarkable piece where a group of 8 – 10 year olds asked an 86 year old man who was a tank driver in WWII about his experiences. They had some amazing questions from “Where did you sleep?” to “What did you like about the war the most” It is kids at this age that have the innocence and honesty to ask questions that most of us would not ask but once they are asked think that is such a good question.

We take one day each year to honor and remember the veterans. Most people think we are honoring those who fought and died for us and that is how Remembrance Day started but now I feel it should be much more than that. It was started in 1919 by King George V to commemorate the sacrifices of the armed forces and civilians in times of war but especially WWI. It has come to signify all military personal whom have died in conflicts and a time to honor both those who have died and those who have served.

It is celebrated in a number of countries and on different days but the meaning remains the same to commemorate the men and women who defend the world against those who would take away our freedom. I live Canada one of the freest countries in the world and I feel blessed to live here and while it is not perfect I have seen allot worse in my travels around the world. I have been to 4 out of the 7 continents and see allot of countries. I wonder how many people truly understand their freedom and how easy it can be taken away and subverted and what courage it takes to stand up to tyranny when your own country does not support you.

Canada is assisting in an action in Afghanistan as I write this and every time one of those brave men and women die you hear the media bring up this survey or that study that says the majority of the people want our troops removed. I have yet to hear the widow or parents of one of these brave soldiers express anything other than how proud they were of the person who died and how much they believed in what they were doing. It is one thing for the Canadian military to spew out dogma and toe the line but it is another thing for the survivors to go on TV and say how much their loved believed in what they were doing.

I would like to have our government conduct a poll that asked how would you feel if overnight women were no longer allowed to be educated, no longer allowed to continue in their careers and even leave there homes unattended and dressed a specific way. I don’t think the results would be favorable especially from the women and yet this is what the Taliban did and the penalties for women who violated these rules were harsh including death by stoning.

I know the occupation by the Taliban and subsequent removal has much more to do with resources and political power but to me it was always about having 50% of your population losing their rights overnight and the world standing by and doing nothing. I don’t kid myself that we can solve the problems in Afghanistan but I hope we do not abandon that country.

I digress, Remembrance Day, one day and then for many of us we remove the poppy and go back to our business but all I ask is this and you know what ask is not the right word, I CHALLENGE EVERYONE WHO CHERISHES THEIR FREEDOM.

Until next Remembrance Day when you see an elderly person think about what they went through during WW2 (as most of the WW1 veterans and civilians have passed on).  Imagine a time when 70% of the young able body men were not here they were in another country fighting and dying and for those still in Canada basic necessities were rationed. If they are walking slow in the mall or maybe taking their time to park, or your behind them in line at the bank, give them that extra time, try and not to get impatient or short with them. This will not be easy for me but I am going to try.


This year more than most I cherish my freedom. I am not sure how long it will last anymore, it is not a given.

Below is a link to a web page that details 5 men who were braver and tougher than any action movie.  If you have read this far then please read about these brave individuals.

Monday, November 2, 2009

My First U2 Concert but not my Last

My First U2 concert was an event for me. I was living in Edmonton at the time and had been into U2 since the live at Red Rocks EP and then went back and bought the early albums, “Boy”, “October” and “War”. When The Unforgettable Fire came out I was speechless, here was a band that could play straight forward rock and roll with the best of them and had lyrics that were deep and meaningful as well.

I never dreamed that they would come to Edmonton because back then nobody came to Edmonton and so when I had a chance to board a plane to see them in Vancouver, I jumped at it. I remember the feelings boarding the plane the butterflies, the excitement were they going to live up to all my dreams and expectations. I arrived at B.C. place and thought I have to sit through these boring opening acts.

I still remember The Bodeans and Los Lobos and they were very good preparing the crowd for U2. I had not heard of The Bodeans but Los Lobos had the hit la bamba so I knew a few of their songs.

Then the moment came, when the lights dimmed, the crowd went crazy and I am not ashamed to say I had a few tears in my eyes, there they were those 4 boys from Dublin and from the first chords of Where the Streets have no Name the crowd was mesmerized. This was to be the first of many U2 concerts for me (the count sits at 19) but this was the first and the most special.

I watched as they went through there remarkable array of material from The Unforgettable Fire to In God’s Country through to a blistering version of Bad prequel by a cover of Beatles Help. U2 were on their game this night both passionate and angry as this concert was only days after the Enniskillen bombing in their home country of Ireland. To hear Bono, talk about the bombing you could hear the anguish and frustration in his voice over a country torn apart that he loved so much.

The band ended the main set tearing through New Year’s Day and Pride and left the stage with the crowd singing and cheering for more. They did not have to wait long as the band came back for a scorching version of Bullet the Blue Sky and then proceeding into an emotional version of With or Without You. The concert ended with U2 playing 40. The crowd was singing in unison with the band and then Bono left and the band played on with the crowd singing and then The Edge walked off and still the rhythm section of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. played on with the crowd and then Adam walked off. The crowd sang on to the beat of Larry’s drums and finally Larry left and there was 50,000 plus singing away “How Long to sing this song” and it was minutes before the crowd realized they were on their own.

I don’t if U2 were even still close to the stage or back stage to hear the thunderous roar that went up from the crowd when we realized we had been part of something special. I have seen them many times since then but nothing will erase my first U2 concert.

My next review will be the U2 concert that inspired me to buy a ticket to next nights show immediately after the one I had just seen.