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The Flag, Brotherhood and a Trip Up North

I recently had the distinct honor to present at the Alberta Fire Chiefs Conference in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. My experiences with our Canadian Brothers and Sisters the last two years has been simply awesome! The hospitality is second to none and everyone is always very friendly and they certainly don't skimp on the food!

But, that's not really what impressed me this year. I was asked to present two tracks for their conference; a three hour officer development class and a quick 90 minute command class, both of which were well attended by attentive and respectful attendees. They offered up great questions and discussion that allowed everyone in the room to take away from the vast experience and knowledge that was in the room.

Even that is not was so special about this year's trip up North. I arrived a couple of days early due to simple logistics. I was not slated to present until Tuesday, but arrived in the late afternoon on Sunday. I was just in time to get cleaned up, put on my dress blues and catch the shuttle to the convention center where the opening ceremonies were to be and later the convention with vendors would open. I was advised that they had included the USA National Anthem to the ceremony in honor of a few of us who had or would be presenting from America. A nice gesture for sure.

As I took my seat I watched as their honor guard presented the colors of both countries and those of the region. I listened to the piper lead the group into the hall, the sound getting louder as they approached from the hallway outside, which always gives me goosebumps. Everybody stood as the guard and the piper entered the room and made their way to the front of the large room. Very well done too!

The dignitaries stood on the stage and a young lady approached and ascended the steps to the stage. She couldn't have been more than early 20's of age and I am sorry I can't remember her name.

We speak of Brotherhood a great deal in our profession and some live by it and some simply use it as a way to fit in. What I witnessed that evening was a great tribute to Brotherhood and a gracious display of respect for a young lady, a neighboring country and our Flag.

The music started and it was easily recognized as the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem, the same one being played and sung today all over our country to honor our Flag. The young singer started the lyrics and was doing a wonderful job and I was already feeling very proud and honored that they had included this as a part of their conference. It was very impressive.

As she continued, she stopped cold in the middle of the song. You could see the disappointment and confusion as she reached for the words and could not come up with them. This all was noticed in mere seconds and without much of a pause, the entire Canadian crowd picked up exactly where she left off and accompanied her through the rest of the song. It sent chills in me and made me so appreciative and proud that our Brothers and Sisters not only helped along this young singer, who did a fabulous job, but they KNEW every word.

As we honor and celebrate our Flag of the United States of America today, know that we have neighbors that know the importance of our Flag and national anthem. FDIC also shows that same respect by playing the Canadian national anthem during the keynotes and ceremonies during the week every year. It truly is a great respect between the two countries.

It just seemed fitting to express my gratitude to the Brothers and Sisters up North for being so respectful on this day that we celebrate our Flag. Today is the day we celebrate what our Flag represents and the freedoms we so humbly enjoy. Have a very special Flag Day this June 14, 2014.

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