1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

O Canada

by Suzanne Fluhr on August 31, 2010 · 4 comments

Sitting on the tarmac at Philadelphia International Airport on our Air Canada flight to Toronto, the first leg on our trip to Japan, I found myself reflexively humming the Canadian National Anthem, hoping that any Canadians nearby could not hear me. The Captain informed us that we were “aboot” 8th in line for take-off. I thought to myself that all we needed to complete the Canadian vibe, were some moose. Apparently, that thought was prescient. A sign in the Toronto Airport congratulates air passengers for having the good sense to fly given that 0.3% of highway fatalities in Canada are caused by collisions with moose.

The flight attendant was clearly at least bilingual in English and French. At least I think he was. I actually didn’t understand much of what he said in any language. He sounded like a comedic imitation of a flight attendant imparting vitally important safety information really, really fast on a PA system notable mostly for static.

So, back to the national anthem. It occurred to me that I actually can hum or sing the first verse of all the national anthems of North America. Both the Canadian and United States national anthems start with “O”. For the first time, I wondered “wassup with “O” (?) as opposed to “Oh”. At my first opportunity for a Google search, I learned from, that “O” is “used before the name of or a pronoun before a person or thing being formally addressed.” So, theoretically, I guess that at my next oral argument in court, I could address the judge as “O, Your Honor”. On second thought—maybe not.

I can sing the first verse of the Mexican national anthem thanks to some old neural pathway from when I attended a Mexican public school at age nine. It doesn’t start with “O”. It starts like something really non-peaceful, “Mexicans at the sound of the war cry….” As we all know, the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner (i.e. the only one most of us know), is all about a battle during the War of 1812. I figured that given the Canadian reputation for being “nice”, the Canadian national anthem would be all about nature or moose or something like that. Nope. Canadians end the first verse of their anthem with “O Canada–we stand on guard for thee.” Really? I thought Canada and the United States share the longest undefended border in the world. It’s even worse in French: “As is thy arm ready to wield the sword, so also is it ready to carry the cross.” Hmm. Sounds a little Crusade-y to me. Whatever happened to the vaunted Canadian reputation for tolerance?

But, I digress —- big time. Our flight from Toronto to Tokyo was by far the most comfortable (even enjoyable) 13 hour flight I’ve ever been on. We flew business class, so we got to sit in those little room-like seats that we usually walk past on our way to our seats in coach. The seats go all the way back to become a bed and all sorts of configurations in between. The flight attendants kept plying me with wine and on my little personal entertainment center, I got to watch “Los Secretos de Sus Ojos”, an Argentine film I’ve been wanting to see, and, for old times sake, to listen to the Joni Mitchell album, “Court and Spark”. I dozed off and on between meals served on real plates with real silverware, and before I knew it, we were fastening our seat belts and returning our beds (um, seats), to their full upright positions for our landing at Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

How many national anthems can you sing?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Margie August 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Actually, our Canadian anthem waits until the 7th line to ‘Stand on Guard’. We start out declaring that Canada is ‘Our home and native land’!
The War of 1812 saw American forces invade Upper and Lower Canada, but they were eventually forced back into American territory. I suppose we have been standing on Guard ever since.
Your Star-Spangled Banner is a wonderful anthem – much more stirring than ours. When I hear the lines
‘And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;’
I always feel a bit teary! Canada’s anthem isn’t all that stirring.


Suzanne Fluhr April 25, 2013 at 11:25 am

Margie, you are totally correct, of course. I have corrected the text of this post. Merci.


Renee Levine April 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

Suzanne: Thought you might like to ask Joel’s boys to sing the Canadian Anthem to you.
You’ll hear the oomph the children put into the song. Renee


Suzanne Fluhr April 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I think I also sang the Mexican National Anthem with enthusiasm when I was 9, even if I wasn’t exactly sure what the words meant. 🙂


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