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"I'm Not Sorry" (Remembering Saskatchewan)

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"I'm Not Sorry" (Remembering Saskatchewan)

Post by Guest on Thu 10 Aug 2017, 14:41

"I'm Not Sorry" (Remembering Saskatchewan)


By Letter to the Editor
August 10, 2017 10:18 AM




This past May, I met Blake Emmons (founder of the Wounded Warriors Weekend, fellow veteran, and a recognized Canadian Country music singer) in San Antonio, Texas.

We were both there to support a veteran-focused housing initiative.

At dinner one night, I heard about Blake’s project and was immediately interested to learn more it.

When I got the chance, I asked Blake some questions about the Wounded Warrior’s Weekend and the rest is history.

He invited me to attend this year’s event in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. And he added, “Better yet John, find some veterans to join you, you won’t be sorry!” So I did.

Through my networking channels, I was able to find five more American veterans from California to Texas to South Carolina to Florida to attend—Richard Caruso, Adam Ellerbe, Scott Huesing, Freddy Medina, David Soto, and Larry Hinkle.

Ten weeks later, four Marines and two Army veterans (which included me) convened.

In Minneapolis, we finally got to meet each other for the first time and immediately a great synergy existed between us.

It’s not an easy feeling to explain, but I can tell you, it is something that is almost always felt when veterans get together to ‘smoke and joke.’

We traded stories, talked about our families, our pets, our interests, and our military experiences.

I knew just after a few minutes that we were in for something unlike we had ever experienced before. Blake was right.

From the moment we touched down in Saskatoon, we were treated like royalty.

Active duty Canadian military personnel dressed in formal and battle dress uniforms and bagpipes greeted us at the airport. The onlooking citizens cheered us on. It was overwhelming and tearful.

After the pomp and circumstance, we boarded a bus for the three hour ride to Lloydminster. All along the way, Canadian citizens, firefighters, law enforcement, and first responders waved Maple-leaf flags and flashed us the “V” sign.

We had a full police escort and a trailing line of over 50 leather-clad veterans riding their motorcycles.

I witnessed many tears on the bus, some of which were my own—to think about the Canadian citizens waiting several hours just to catch a 15-second glimpse of our motorcade left me left me speechless.

During one stop, we were treated to a family-style BBQ in the cities of Battleford and North Battleford. Local citizens and politicians turned out to greet and to serve us.

The hospitality we felt there was very much like what I had experienced many times in the Deep South.

It made us feel like we were at home. After whetting our appetites, we got back on the bus to continue our trip Lloydminster.

Upon arrival there, we witnessed another outpouring of citizens and their families lined up outside of Lakeland College, the place we would stay for four days.

During that time, we would enjoy several group meals at the Legion, a real pig BBQ at a local buffalo ranch, a live-music hoedown with incredible talents, “Jack” fishing on Loon Lake, golf, learning about service animals, shopping, and so much more, including a last night visit to the Artifacts Room in the Nutana Royal Canadian Legion in Saskatoon.

The camaraderie formed between the American and Canadian veterans felt both real and surreal.

There were many tearful and happy goosebump moments.

I truly believe we found a measure of meaning in our military experiences. We learned about our common heritage and about our universal belief in Freedom.

Most importantly, we learned to believe in ourselves and in each other. The emotions stirred deep inside made us feel real, like authentic people with a purpose again.

Extraordinary, transforming, inspirational, motivating, and hopeful seem like understatements, but were probably felt by most of us over the weekend.

We are now safely back in the United States and I’ve had 48 hours to contemplate what just happened in Canada.

The experience feels like it was a dream, but I know it was all too real.

I know the friendships and memories made at the the Wounded Warriors Weekend will last a lifetime.

I’m sure all of those who attended feel the same way.

So from the bottom of my heart Blake, I thank you for the invitation.

I know the others thank you, too.

And you were right, Sir—I’m not sorry I visited Saskatchewan, I feel honoured to have been included with so many other veterans.

May God Bless Canada and her people. May God Bless America and her people.

Let us never forget those whom we’ve lost in battle nor each other still here with the living.

- John T. Krotec is an American Veteran as well as the Founder, Vision Chief for GreenZone Hero, Inc.

http://www.meridianbooster.com/articles/article/2017-08-10-im-not-sorry-remembering-saskatchewan#.WYynhVGGOK8


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