As mentioned in my previous post, for 2 1/2 months, I was tasked to work out of Vancouver for the Olympics. We had performed a couple of exercises in the fall, followed up by the full operation, which ran from the beginning of January until late March. We had thousands of troops in Vancouver and you can only imagine the logistical planning required to bring so many soldiers to one area and then feed, clothe, and house them for three months! The most interesting part was belonging to a unit that did a lot of the planning and support. It was quite the operation to witness.
I have to say, that of all the places you could be sent to in the military (most of them not entirely appealing or safe), many of us felt we had hit the jackpot with Vancouver! It was trendy and exciting and so full of action. The days leading up to the Olympics were mostly quiet but as the countdown drew closer, you could feel the city’s energy rise. People were excited to show off our fantastic country for all that is it; welcoming, friendly, hardworking, and most of all, that we produced some of the best athletes in the world.
And then the Olympics finally arrived and WOW! What a fantastic time to be in Vancouver, especially in uniform. It was amazing to go for a walk and hear fans singing “O Canada” in the streets! And when people saw us in uniform, they wanted to shake our hands, thank us for our service, and even wanted to buy us dinner to thank us for all that we were doing. I was honoured to be there.
One particular moment that I will never forget was when Alexandre Bilodeau won the first gold for Canada. I was out with some friends at one of the Vancouver venues, listening to a great band. They interrupted the show to let us watch Alexandre receiving his medal. There was something amazing about standing there, surrounded by this amazing energy and all this support, watching our flag rise up onto the screen. And when I looked around, at all the smiles and tears, I realized I would never again experience this kind of pride in being Canadian and furthermore, in being a Canadian Forces member. It was beautiful to see our country come together and be honoured to live in such an amazing country. Our athletes did that for us.
I returned home aware that I had been a part of something special. Something unforgettable. Most of all, I can never forget that goal by Crosby and the sound that came from every corner of Canada as they all stood and cheered, proud to be Canadians.