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I was born into the greatest place I can think of almost 52 years ago.

In that time, I’ve witnessed some really awesome things. I’ve seen a Canuck astronaut command a space station, and then send us the coolest video off earth. “Space Oddity” will never mean the same thing to me after that.

I’ve watched an intolerant society learn to not only tolerate, but embrace in some cases. I’ve seen bullies from other countries try to bring us to our knees financially, only to have themselves slapped down a few pegs, and learn that good…like it or not, ALWAYS wins in the end.

I’ve also watched with reverent pride a little known singer from the East Coast take United Airlines down a very dark path with…well, a very Canadian response to negativity…using his talents and his head. His name is Dave Carroll, and he’s got awesome to spare.

I shook in fear during 9/11, working in the tallest building downtown, while seeing those horrifying images again and again. Many operators were crying, and couldn’t control it, and the entire building was sent home, except for us…the money floor.

I felt so proud when Newfoundland took in all those flights that were bound for New York, housed them, fed them, and hugged them. We were with the U.S throughout all of that. And I for one won’t ever forget just how Canadian we were doing what we do best; offering all we could to try to ease the pain.

I’ve lived through the terrorism of the FLQ without so much as a scratch, as did most Canadians, I watched Rene Levesque as a young boy blow cigarette smoke into Queen Elizabeth’s face, and in later years, a notorious marijuana advocate give said Queen a lovely spray of pot greenery, mixed in with the flowers she was carrying.

I lived to see our Lancaster fly with her British counterpart, and wept at the sight. I once even got to sit at the feet of a former WW2 pilot of one of those Lancasters; a man who made his home in Canada after the war. No superstar could equal the awe and respect I felt that day, and the warm thank you I tried to give him for what he helped do all those years ago.

I’ve seen the very best and the very worst in people. Sometimes I brought out those two states in others.

I’ve lived a charmed and privileged life. Only weeks ago, I lay in a hospital bed, trying to recover from something that would have killed me had I lived elsewhere. Our universal healthcare ensured I’d eat horrendous food, wake up with needles stabbing me, and a crick in my back from the torture device that was my bed.

But every moment of every day, I know I’m about as blessed a man as can be.

We may not be the richest or most powerful country on earth, but we are one of the most respected.

Thank you Canada for nurturing our spirit. We stand true north strong and free because of you and your ideals.