27 August 2006

Opening Today

The Lend-Lease Memorial dedication - the purpose of my visit to Fairbanks - is today (can you handle any more coverage from the News-Miner?) and last night there was a swanky reception for some of the many people in town for the event. My shoulders (in a slightly-too-small but ever-so-cheap-from-the-Nome-thrift-store suit coat that was just a little too informal for last night's festivities) are still a bit sore from rubbing with so many of the high and mighty. Donald Rumsfeld and Sergey Ivanov were there, as was Uncle Ted Stevens, military and diplomatic representatives of Canada, Russia, Great Britain, and France, Loren Leman, the entire Fairbanks state delegation, and various and sundry others.

Not that this is a tremendously earth-shattering revelation or anything but I realized - as I was pushed aside by Loren Leman and John Binkley, who were trying to get the best shot possible with their digital cameras - that the "high and mighty" (such as they are) are no different than the rest of us, just people looking to enjoy the memories.

I spent - again - much of my time speaking with the veterans, who are always so eager to talk and glad to have someone who will listen. I nearly had an interview with Ivanov but I let him go when I saw a former test pilot become available at the same time. Kind of chickening out, I know, but I figured the test pilot would be more willing to speak, spoke un-accented English, and would have a better story to tell.

Canadian Lt. General Eric Findley, deputy commander of NORAD, is retiring in December to the same area where I went to school - the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. His wife and I are alumni of the same school.

I spoke with John Binkley a little while and told him there are people in Nome who are disappointed he didn't win (though I'm not sure I count myself among them). He said (and I agree wholeheartedly with this), "I sure hope we don't become a state where only what people in Southcentral think is important. There's so much else this state has." (That's a bit of a paraphrase).

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