Friday, January 23, 2009

The American Embassy in Ottawa, Canada

In my last year of high school my father was stationed in Canada as an Immigration Attache'. The American Embassy where he worked, was located across the street from the Parliament building, in downtown Ottawa. I remember it was a beautiful building, and every day they would have a changing of the guard ceremony. Dark horses, tails braided, hoofs painted black, pranced as excitement passed from one to the other throughout the performance.

The Canadian guardsmen dressed in kilts and plumed hats, were so young and handsome, that as a sixteen year old I was impressed. Toward the very end of it, the horses started to dance and caper, their excitation. They loved to run and they knew what was coming. And then for the finale they galloped at full speed from one end of the field to the other. An awe inspiring sight that you could see from the Embassy windows. Very cool.

My father was the perfect diplomat, he could talk anybody into anything. I once watched him take a five year old broken disposal all unit back to the store and he came home from the store with a free new one. It had to be the perfect job for him.

I met then president, Lyndon B. Johnson, and vice president, Hubert Humphrey, at the American Embassy. The vice-president tried to pick up my youngest brother. He was very cute, but chubby. He couldn't lift him.

A most thrilling day for me was the day I brought my high school class there. I was a senior at Hillcrest High School. The ambassador, Mr. Butterworth, came out and addressed my class, and suddenly I became a bit more popular. Go figure.

What I remember the most was my father dressed up in a suit and tie, always impeccably. He was very handsome, with dark hair and eyes, and he always wore after shave. He showed the class all around the very extravagant Embassy. As we stood by the front entrance we listened to him talk, just before we left. I looked down and saw that we all stood on a huge rug that had the American Eagle, and tons of stars and stripes on it, very patriotic and very American.

I never felt so proud of my father or my country as that very moment. He was a diplomat and he loved his job.