Freedom 55Today, November 2nd, 2012, is my parents’ fifty-fifth wedding anniversary.

Apparently, the emerald or any green stone is the appropriate gift for this midpoint between the golden (50th) and diamond (60th) anniversary milestones. Emerald is quite appropriate given my folks just got back from a tour of Scotland and Ireland.

Congrats, Mom and Dad.

1957 was not much like 2012.

In Arkansas, the infamous Little Rock Nine were the first Black American students to enter a white high school. “Enter” is a loose phrase as this small group were escorted into the school guarded by the 101st US Airborne. Pause and consider that. When my parents were getting married, black kids could not attend white high schools in the Untied States. Holy Obama.

John Diefenbaker became prime minister of Canada, returning the Tories to power for the first time in nearly thirty years. The Saskatchewan native had some great accomplishments, such as appointing our first ever female cabinet minister, and first ever Aboriginal Senate member. Most people my age remember studying his most famous decision in our high school history classes: to scrap the Avro Arrow jet fighter project, forever dooming Canada to being an also-ran in military innovation.

The same year also triggered the so-called Space Race when the Russians launched Sputnik, the world’s first earth satellite. This launch shocked Western civilization as until then space flight had only been the subject of movies. For three months, as it moved through space, the satellite was monitored by governments around the world, including the Russian space agency and hundreds of amateur radio operators who picked up its signal. Sputnik generated unbelievable scientific data, but its most profound impact was propelling the United States into action which would eventually lead to it winning the race to step foot on the moon.

Far away from the world’s affairs my parents were married at the Salvation Army church on Clarence Street in London, Ontario. I am pretty sure there were no news reporters or correspondents present. I am also pretty convinced that none will take notice of today’s milestone.

That’s okay, my folks don’t want attention, seek headlines, or need fanfare. (Guess it’s ridiculously obvious that I am adopted and share very little genealogical connection!). I am pretty sure they won’t even be entirely comfortable with my blogging about them to my online friends like you. So to be sensitive to them, I will keep this short. And sweet!

Yet it’s hard not to commemorate a remarkable achievement such as fifty-five years of marriage. Hard not to commemorate any institution that can flourish for that length of time. It makes one wonder, what is the Cadbury secret of longevity? I don’t know the secret of my parent’s success, but as an interested observer I have been able to glean a few lessons in the way they communicate, listen, respect, and react to one another.

So congrats Nanna and Papa, as my kids call you. Happy 55th! What you have done is amazing.

Keep it going.