Games and Frontiers: European Vacation Stirs a Range of Feelings

MH3 —  August 16, 2012

My blog needs a vacation. It’s feeling slighted.

It knows I’m on vacation. Last week the Olympics, this week Normandy.

Don’t side with my blog by calling me spoiled. It can see my entire family is on vacation. It doesn’t need new allies.

My blog is feeling treated like a dog. It should feel worse, because my dog is also away, at a friend’s cottage. How does that work?!

By coincidence, my sister is on vacay right now as well. On the West Coast, California style. Her husband used to play football with my buddy Rico. He’s chilling on the East Coast, Hampton Beach style. There is no deep connection here. I’m just trying to make sure my blog feels as crummy as possible. Even if I have to resort to entirely random connections.

Hey, if you’re on vacation, could you join in please? Let my blog know what you’ve been up to. Where you went. What you saw. Or ate! Or did. Might as well make bloggy blog as jealous as possible.

If you don’t mind, please keep my highlights a secret from my blog. They will cause resentment. Largely because they were as thrilling and memorable as much as they were emotionally diametric opposites.

Experiencing our greatest global celebration, the Summer Olympic Games and then stirring the Norman ghosts of the most important battle of WWII, within the constructs of one holiday, has produced a bizarre tapestry of memories.



In the span of a fortnight I cheered incredibly loudly against the USA during the gold medal emotion of women’s soccer (USA over Japan) and women’s volleyball (Brazil over USA); then was reduced to grateful silence for our southern neighbours at the US military cemeteries at Omaha Beach.
I took Commonwealth-like pride in the splendor of the guards on duty at Buckingham Palace; but could only shudder at the fury the Nazi artillery bunkers must have rained down on Canadian soldiers at Juno Beach.

It was just as exciting as Vancouver two years ago, when we Owned the Podium, as it was to be at a Notting Hill pub last week whenever a member of England’s cleverly branded “Team GB” earned a host country medal; yet seeing Canadian war efforts so flatteringly remembered and Canadian gravestones so diligently maintained in the British Military Museum in Bayeux gave me even more respect for our Olympic hosts.

War and the Olympics never intersected more dramatically than in 1936. In London I only just learned of the story of Jesse Owens’ German rival, Luz Long, befriending him in front of the Nazi regime, at great peril to himself. He even provided Owens advice that helped the American win the long jump over him. Long was later killed as a German soldier during the War, but during his friendship with Owens wrote several letters, including one asking Jesse to tell Long’s son the true account of their relationship some day. At the world track and field championships in 2009 in Berlin, that same fatherless child presented medals to athletes alongside Jesse Owens’ granddaughter.

I do hope my blog will get some R&R while I’m away. It’s going to need it, because when I return home next week, I will have much to talk about.