Today is – of course – a very special day for all Americans. It’s the 236th anniversary of the Independence of our country. It is a day when all Americans celebrate the values that make our country great. A time to thank those whose foresight and determination shaped the course of our nations’ histories. To thank those who defined freedom as a virtue and equality as a goal.
It is a time to thank the men and the women of our armed forces around the world whose service and sacrifice has protected those values that were enshrined in the Declaration of Independence 236 years ago today.
On a personal level, it is a time for me and my family to thank the Canadian people for the grace, the kindness, and the hospitality they have shown to us since we arrived as guests in your country three years ago. For your warmth and for your friendship we will be eternally grateful.
We are celebrating what George Washington referred to as “the experiment entrusted in the hands of the American people.” That experiment has served us well in times of peace and in times of war. In times of plenty and in times of want. It has been the answer to the cynical, to the fearful, and to the doubtful.
And celebrate we did.
We started with two very special events courtesy of our Canadian friends. First thing in the morning we went to a ceremony at City Hall hosted by, His Worship, Mayor Jim Watson, where the American Flag was raised and the Governor General’s Ceremonial Band played the Star Spangled Banner. Then Mayor Watson presented us with a very special gift. In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy travelled to Ottawa for his first trip outside the United States as President. We were given a set of photos from the city’s archives of President and Mrs. Kennedy’s trip. They are very special to me as President Kennedy has been a hero of mine for a long time. And his connection to Ottawa is special.
Then we went to Parliament Hill to be guests at the Changing of the Ceremonial Guard. This time, the band (with bag pipes!!) played several American songs including one of my personal favorites, the Washington Post March (no it’s not named after the newspaper).
Then we went home for our traditional celebration. This year we were trying to replicate a back yard picnic, like the ones Julie and I had growing up. The biggest difference was this one was a little bigger than the ones we had when we were kids – bigger by about 4000 people. Fortunately we have a very big back yard.
I have always done a lot of press on July 4. And this year was no exception. But one interview stands out. This year, I did the weather on a live remote with J.J. Clarke of CTV Ottawa. When it was my turn, I allowed as how this was the first time I had ever done the weather, that it was warm and sunny outside, and that I could now boast I was the only weatherman in history who had never gotten a forecast wrong!! I am now retiring from the weather business with my record intact. Kind of like the Rocky Marciano of weathermen.
We were joined by Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia and his wife Sandra who are in Canada on a economic development mission encouraging trade and investment between Georgia and their largest trading partner – Canada.
A special treat was the musical entertainment. RCMP Corporal Craig Kennedy sang the Canadian and American national anthems with great emotion. Then, as has become the tradition, the Governor General’s Band of the Ceremonial Guard entertained us for half the event. Next the Nepean All-City Jazz Band entertained the crowd. This incredibly talented group of young people was recently featured at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival. They have earned Musicfest’s National Gold Awards for the past 25 years straight – which ought to allow them to retire the trophy. They were great.
It’s been a long and exciting day. And I believe we have honored the 4th of July in Ottawa as the day deserves.