*ANOTHER YEAR OF REMEMBRANCE AND RESPECT*
For myself I wish to express my gratitude to all the Ottawa Firefighters who took me under their wings and had once again shown me the welcome, respect and acceptance that comes from the heart and is so appreciated.
This year I was privileged to be a guest at the Ottawa Fire Fighters Memorial Dinner Gala where I was allowed to sit with the cities Fire Chief along with his friends and piers who are the pillars that carry the great weight of responsibility that make the beautiful city of Ottawa run.
It is my pleasure to thank Fire Chief John deHooge for introducing me to the two department Chaplin's, the Ottawa city Police Chief and the Mayor, his Honor Jim Watson, who all welcomed me and allowed me to participate, listen and learn from their conversations. The dinner was a grand treat as well and afterwards we all took part in the auctions of items which proceeds went for the betterment of the community.
During the evening events we were all blessed to have been in the presence of Walter Gretzky, the proud father of Wayne the "great one" who as everyone knows has given a new meaning to the word "professional" in the world of hockey. I was thrilled to see Mr. Gretzky that evening and meet him the next day after the Ottawa City Firefighters Memorial march.
As you can see I was very happy to be in this man's presence. It was another whirl-wind weekend as expected, going to all of the events and "hot spots" and enjoy seeing all of my friends of years past as well as making new one's.
My good friend Sector Chief Chris Burke, seen below on the left, allowed me to tour a fire scene that had occurred just a few blocks from the station where we were all invited to attend a BAR-B-Q and I met the Firefighters from Belgium. I was informed that residents in the building that burned were evacuated by some off duty Firefighters who smelled smoke and took action to insure that no lives were lost.
The whole gang from the station was there to greet us "foreigners" as seen in the photo on the right.
The Belgium Chief pictured above in the center greeted me at the BAR-B-Q and gave to me a traditional gift from his department pictured here. It is a token of friendship that I am very proud to have in my collection. My first from Europe!
I always enjoy the food and sights of the city of Ottawa and the wonderful pleasures and comforts of my hotel, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. I highly recommend this hotel if you come to visit Ottawa because there are so many added attractions to see and enjoy right in the hotel, such as an art gallery and a night club with live entertainment, as well as its world class restaurant.
The Sheridan on Albert Street managed by my friend Desmond Lomas is the "hot spot" were all the Firefighters stay and the Canadian Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation is headquartered, but for me was just too busy an atmosphere for the quiet vacation I need when I come to town. I recommend it for everyone who wants to be fed, bed and treated in fine style along with other Firefighters from around the world. It was a very good time for me on my stay in 2012.
Sunday morning was again made to order for the memorial event. I was one of the many color guards who mustered to be marched into the arena where the new statue and wall stood as tribute by the city of Ottawa to all those who did not "go home".
After we all were 'dismissed' we each went our separate ways saying our "farewells" and promising to see each other again next year. Many of us went to the after event in the Parliament building to kick back, have a brew and a good laugh.
By the time this was over I was ready to just go back to my hotel and take a well earned rest-bit and enjoy a few movies in my room that were still in theaters and have another world class meal. I was able to make my arrangements for my travel right from my hotel concierge desk. They secured my tickets and set up my baggage checks so I could just lay back and enjoy!
It was the following evening that I went to the BAR-B-Q at station #1 where I ate my fill of grilled goodies and side dish's. Then I had the privilege of taking a tour of the station to see how the "big boy's" do things. From the classroom, exercise gym and galley to the station control center, I was very impressed and somewhat envious of the ample room and equipment. I had none of these things at my last duty station in Orleans Nebraska. Just a tin building overflowing with outdated equipment that was very disorganized.
As all who have ever meet this man know, he wears many hats and is a gracious host and a humble leader of mankind. I see this day he had just come in from the "ranch" to host the department BAR-B-Q! Looking good Chief :-)
Here is a video of some of what we did and saw. CLICK ON PHOTO BELOW
SECTOR OPERATIONS CHIEF CHRIS BURKE - My friend, a professional Firefighter and "hero" at large.
See you next year everyone!