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By any other name, it’s still theft

It was a case of: She said – She said.

In 2008, Michelle Obama said, “Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and that you do what you say.”

This week, Melania Trump said, “My parents impressed on me the values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say.” [more…]

When it’s wrong, say so

The liner St. Louis, loaded with Jewish refugees, was refused entry to Canada in 1939.

The liner St. Louis, loaded with Jewish refugees, was refused entry to Canada in 1939.

As people often do, a colleague of mine sent me what he considered a joke by email, the other day. I read it and I didn’t laugh. It painted a scenario of an immigrant who, through odd circumstances, had a lot of dependents. Eventually, the man of Arabic background requests assistance from the government. The story concludes with this response:

“I’ve arranged to start mailing cheques … as soon as you arrive in Canada,” signed Justin Trudeau. [more…]

A dog’s life

A boy and his first dog.

A boy and his first dog.

Just the other day, I bumped into one of my acquaintances in the park. Of course, the people I meet in the park generally have a companion with them – of the four-legged variety. Anyway, as often happens among dog walkers, we got talking about breeds, dog compatibility and ages of our pets.

“This Kerry’s a bit older than my last dog,” I said to my dog-walking acquaintance.

“Mine too,” he said. “She’s been with us throughout the lives of our kids.” [more…]

A little taste of Canada in London

Canada House on Trafalgar Square - June 2016.

Canada House on Trafalgar Square – June 2016.

It was one of the quickest checkpoint passages I think I’ve ever experienced. Not that the security officer wasn’t thorough. Not at all. First he asked us about the nature of our visit. We said we wanted to visit the Canada Gallery just beyond the checkpoint. Next, he asked to scan my backpack. No problem there. Then, I offered my passport.

“Canadians?” the security guard said.

I nodded and in we went. My wife and I had just gone through the security check at Canada House, in London, England. [more…]

Duty to say nice things

Maud believed in pointing

Maud Montgomery believed in the pointing of duty.

Earlier this week, in the town where I live, there was a little incident on the main street. A car jumped the curb and ended up sideways in front of a few shops. I noticed it because the police were there. I ventured closer and saw a woman, I think the owner of the car, sitting on a storefront step. What intrigued me was that everybody gathering around had the same first reaction.

“Are you OK?” everybody asked the woman.

She appeared shaken, but otherwise all right.

[more…]

Soldiers of secrecy

On her first return visit to Bletchley Park, former teleprinter operator Theo Hopkinson searches for her past.

On her first return visit to Bletchley Park, former wartime teleprinter operator Theo Hopkinson searches for her past.

She strode toward the building with a protective rampart in front of it. As I watched her, I sensed she needed to find something, maybe something tangible from long ago. Once inside this rather plain building, labelled simply Block B, her pace slowed. Inside, she passed glass exhibit cases and along walls laden with images and captions from the past. Then, she spotted it.

“There. That’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s like the one I worked on,” said Theo Hopkinson, now nearly 90.

I asked what she was looking for.

“A teleprinter,” she said. “We used them to key in messages.” [more…]

Love in War

Winston Churchill had to be encouraged by his relatives to propose to Clementine Hozier.

Winston had to be encouraged to propose to Clementine …

The two almost did not meet. The couple nearly didn’t marry and become one of the most famous couples in 20th century Britain. But thanks to the intervention of Winston Churchill’s cousin, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, a visitor to Churchill’s family home – Blenheim Palace in England – Clementine Hozier did meet Winston in August 1908. They took a walk in the garden, dashed for cover during a rain shower and he finally proposed.

“I took two important decisions (at Blenheim),” the great wartime leader of Britain wrote later, “to be born and to marry.” [more…]

Reviewing the rank and file

Queen Elizabeth doing what only Royalty can do well - reviewing the troops.

Queen Elizabeth doing what only Royalty can do well – reviewing the troops.

When he called and asked for assistance, it didn’t take me long to consent. My acquaintance, Warren Ralph, needed a guest to perform the duties of the Reviewing Officer at a ceremony recognizing young people in his military cadet corps. I said I had no experience. But Ralph said it was easy. They would lead me through it.

“But I’ve never been the Reviewing Officer before,” I said.

“Piece of cake,” Capt. Ralph said. “All you have to do is walk through the ranks of the cadets with the Parade Commander at your side.” [more…]

Lives in a salvaged suitcase

This briefcase-sized suitcase revealed a unique wartime correspondence story.

This briefcase-sized suitcase revealed a unique wartime correspondence story.

It’s one of the most compelling wartime stories I’ve ever encountered. And I almost missed it. There I was, up to my eyeballs in other stuff, when I got a call from two acquaintances. Jeremy Van Dyke organizes overseas travel tours and Frank Moore, a retired former banker, collects classic cars.

“Ted, we’ve got to meet,” Van Dyke said on the phone from Cambridge.

“I’m really busy,” I said.

“We’ve got a story you’ve got to tell,” Van Dyke insisted.

[more…]

Stop mangling O Canada

Because it was appropriate, Whitney Houston belted out The Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl in 1991. Photo www.newyorker.com

Because it was appropriate, Whitney Houston belted out The Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl in 1991. Photo www.newyorker.com

Dignitaries had been gathering at the French Embassy in Ottawa for an hour. Wine was flowing. Hors d’oeuvres fast disappearing. And finally, an assistant to the ambassador announced that His Excellency was in the hall. The din dissipated and our attention was directed to a mezzanine level where a woman dressed in red, white and blue began to sing.

“O Caa-naa-daa,” she began in elongated, almost dirge-like tones.

“Oh no,” I thought. “This is going to be another of those interminable renditions of our national anthem.”

[more…]