Friday, May 23, 2008

Sunset Ceremony at RMC

This is the second part of our visit with Jeffrey in Kingston last week. To catch up on the first part, please read the previous blog post.

Before the ceremony began, our Skyhawks did a couple of flybys, dropping streamers in order to determine wind direction and whether or not it would be safe to demonstrate their signature Canadian flag parachute jumps. Shortly afterward, they decided to cancel the jump due to the increasingly inclement weather. It was disappointing but, unlike last year when they canceled the full evening's events, the rest of the show still went on.

Once 7:30 rolled around, the rain clouds joined in. First with a spit, then a spatter and finally with a steady downpour. We watched as umbrellas in front of us dripped onto our laps, which were gratefully covered with a ground sheet. One of the good things about having a son in the military, is that he's always prepared.

RMC is the only Canadian university which has Tai Kwon Do as an official varsity sport. The evening started out with a demonstration of their skills.

Though the mats had been turned upside down until the demonstration was about to begin, they quickly became wet, causing this fellow to miss his footing on his first attempt to jump over his teammates and break the board. This second jump proved successful.

Old Eighteen refers to the first 18 cadets who entered RMC in 1876. Tradition dictates that first year cadets are required to memorize their names. The Old Eighteen Historic Drill Team demonstrated their daily training from over 130 years ago.

The Naval Gun Run was first used toward the end of the 19th century and into the 20th as a means to supply the army with artillery support. The guns were removed from their fixed mountings on naval ships and transferred to shore, where naval crews fought alongside the army troops.

Shortly after the drill demonstrations, Old Eighteen had some help from some faux American soldiers to reenact a battle from the War of 1812. Ready, aim...


There were many casualties on both sides.

And the dead bodies littered the parade square where they fell.

After the historic battle reenactments, the RMC Sandhurst Military Skills Team demonstrated the skills they've learned and used in competition against military academies in other countries such as Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the UK and West Point in the US. They are the proud World Champions for 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The Sandhurst team arrived on campus in a helicopter, which hovered over the field behind us. They then rappelled out of the helicopter and headed into the parade square for their demo. Don captured this film on his video camera.

The team showcased the various skills required to compete in combat.

These soldiers demonstrated the teamwork required to climb up and over a twelve-foot wall.

At some point in the evening, the rain began to let up. After another few minutes, it stopped completely, and umbrellas that had partially obscured our view were put away. I was already finding the photography challenging since the subjects were at a distance and it was overcast, but even more so now that it was getting darker, which shows in the grainy appearance of the pictures. This was a sunset ceremony after all. Not that we had actually seen the sun, but at least now we were no longer being rained upon.

I have a few more photos from the rest of the ceremony that day in Kingston which I'll save for next time. Stay tuned for part three which I'll post in a few days.


Reb said...

Sounds like they put on a good show. I really like the "fire" shot. You had good timing on a lot of those photos.

the Bag Lady said...

Awesome photos, Hil! As Reb said, the fire shot was terrific.
I loved watching the video! That was very cool!!!
Thanks for sharing this with us.

Kat said...

Wow. That is amazing! I'm going to have to bring my hubby to your site later to see this. He'll love it!

Daryl said...

Good show and the photos are good ... maybe not as good as your flowers and animal/bird shots but those things arent moving, in the rain or poorly lit ... sounds a bit backhanded but its meant as a compliment.


Suldog said...

Wow! That's some kind of great stuff! It sounds like a marvelous time was had. Thanks for sharing the photos, and the story.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This is so cool. Thanks for sharing--and the pictures are amazing especially given the conditions.

steviewren said...

I love the photo in which you capture the moment of the gunfire. Spectacular! They put on quite a show don't they?

Leah J. Utas said...

I love your re-enactment pics, notably the gunfire.
The rappelling video was exciting, too, and looked like fun in a scary way.
Good work, especially given the challenge of the conditions.

Shammickite said...

What a shame that it was such a drippy wet evening, but you did really well with the photos in spite of the rain and the grey skies. I really enjoy military re-enactments, and probably all those RMC fellows do too. Much more fun that actually going to war!
My olderson was part of a military re-enactment at Fort York when he was in the boy scouts many many years ago!

Hilary said...

• Thanks, Reb. I did luck out on a few of them. :)

• Thanks muchly, Baggie... much appreciated. :)

• Thanks, Kathryn.. I'm glad you like it and hope he does too. :)

• Thanks, Daryl.. your kind words were taken as meant. :)

• Thank you, Suldog. I'm glad you enjoyed it.. the final part will be coming up soonish. :)

• Thanks muchly, Jenn. :)

• They sure do, Steviewren. I kinda like that "shot" myself. ;) Thanks for dropping by. :)

• Thanks very much, Leah. I wouldn't be in a hurry to rappel either.. but sure enjoyed watching it. :)

• Thanks, Ex-S. I remember those boy scout days too.. more from friends' kids than my own. Ironically Jeffrey didn't like Scouts much. As for the reenactments, I'd rather see him do demos instead of the real thing too but that's not my choice. :)

Tamie said...

Wow, these pics are amazing. What setting did you use to get the fire coming out of those guns? Neat!!

Chi said...

That first Karate pic looks like someone is getting tagged in his nethers!

WAATAAAAAA! <---Karate sound effect*

Jo said...

You do have great timing, Hil...the gunshot photo reminded me of how you captured Frank's trout :)

What a fascinating ceremony, thank you for sharing it...I love the history, the scenes, and your easy storytelling--it's like we get the "best of" without the rain. I know how proud you must be of your son--was your heart just bursting?

Kappa no He said...

OMG, I love it! I am an Airforce brat myself and LIVE for events like that. I got chill bumps just looking at the pictures, and the video!!

Jo said...

I love(!) The Old Eighteen. What a fabulous tradition. And I see they're demonstrating the British Square. That formation saved their bacon in a lot of battles.

Did you ever see an old movie from 1964 called "Zulu"? They used the British Square in that.

Great posts!

Frank Baron said...

Yes!! We kicked Limey and Yankee butt!! Go Canuckleheads!!

Fine shots Hil, and an even better history lesson. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow...looks like they put on a great show in spite of the rain.

I can't help but feel for those guys that had to play dead in the puddles though!

Russell said...

As always, I enjoyed your post very much.

The photo that really caught my attention was the one with the helicopter landing. You managed to do something most people cannot do -- capture the image of the blades themselves! Usually you just see sort of a blur but your image actually shows the blades - very good!!

Here in Iowa it is now Sunday night, about 8:10, and we are under a tornado watch. I guess May is a time for unsettled weather and I am glad the rain finally stopped for you as you watched your son.

I won't ramble too much longer - but I always like to see the people in the background of pictures like this! The one where the fellows are firing off their guns (another great shot by the way - I love the smoke!) you can see the people reacting to the loud noise.

Take care and best of luck to you and your son.

Hilary said...

• Thanks TKWI. I couldn't tell you the exact setting because I kept adjusting them as the night went on. The darker it got, the slower the shutter speed and the less steady my hand. You should see how many shots ended up deleted. ;)

• Ouch, Christopha! I'll bet your legs spontaneously crossed themselves when you thought that. ;)

• Thanks, Jo! lol... I had to laugh when I read that first line. Yes, it was like guns exploded the day I captured Franks trout! But I know the one you meant. ;)

Yup, my heart tends to burst a little whenever I think about my boys following their own hearts. You know the feeling. BTW, I like your new butterfly.. and the new header on your blog. :)

• I'm glad you liked it, Kappa. Stay tuned. The last set of pics will be up in a couple of days. :)

• Thanks, Josie. I have to say that I'm not familiar with "Zulu" and didn't know about the British Square. I suppose I might have, had I been listening more closely to what was being said over the loud speaker rather than messing with my camera settings! Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks muchly, Frank. I'd be afraid to hear the "History of Canada According to Frank." Afraid and strangely intrigued. ;)

• Thanks, Susan. The puddles didn't look too comfy, but at least their dorms were nearby for a quick shower and change of clothes right afterward. :)

• Thanks for your always-kind words, Russell. I'm glad you liked the photos and that you took such a close look into the background faces.

I sure hope you can avoid the tornadoes. That would not be a good way to celebrate your first weekend back at your new/old farm. :/

david mcmahon said...

Some great shots there, Hilary. And I was fascinated by the Old Eighteen.

Dianne said...

I think the overcast conditions just added to the beauty of your photos.

The casualties on the ground is a startling photo and the light makes it even more so.

Great photos.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Despite the drippy weather and umbrellas in your face, you ! I enjoyed seeing got some great shots! Like some others, I thought the "fire" shot was excellent;what timing! I enjoyed seeing the buildings in the background as well as the action; it must be a lovely campus.

Thanks for visiting my blog today, and for the hug.

Cath said...

This is great stuff. Really good photos and it is interesting to see the results of all that training.

Th quality of the shots might not be as good as you would like, but you more than make up for it in the content and the fact that you overcame a number of challenges to get any shots at all! I did not see a single umbrella or part-umbrella on any one of them. That is an achievement alone! ;0)

Cath said...

PS - The gunfire - capturing that as the guns went off? Absolutely perfect. That's skill.

Hilary said...

• Thanks, David. The tradition of Old Eighteen made an impression on me too. A great way to help preserve our history. :)

• Thanks so much, Dianne. I did struggle more with lighting as the night came on, but all things considered, the shots still depict the events of the evening. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you for your kind words, Pat. Yes the campus has some wonderful old buildings - and is just across the water from Fort Henry. The city of Kingston is so rich with history. :)

• Thanks, Cath. The rain had stopped about an hour or less into the ceremony, but the overcast conditions did persist.. as did that setting sun situation. Much more luck than skill, but I do appreciate your very kind words. :)

Merisi said...

that was a great history lesson for me, thank you (I came here thanks to David McMahon).
In my opinion the light makes many of the pictures even more poignant, great job!

Hilary said...

Thanks so much Merisi.. and welcome. I hope you'll be back again soon. :)

And thanks to you too, David for including me in your post of the day mentions. :)

steviewren said...

Hillary, I just wanted to tell you that I have nominated you as one of the five blogs that make my day. Please go to my site to see why. Congratulations!

Hilary said...

Thank you, Steviewren.. much appreciated. :)

Cheryl said...

Do they always do a special ceremony like this on remembrance day at rmc? My son's father is currently a second year cadet there and i would love to take my son to see something like this...please email me and let me know. (

Hilary said...

Cheryl, as explained in my email to you, this is in conjunction with the fourth year grads and not Remembrance Day. I hope you and your son do attend next May. It's a wonderful production.

Claudya Martinez said...

You did an excellent job with the pictures and I never would have guessed that it was challenging for you due to the conditions.

I wanted to thank you so much for stopping by and offering your support during what has been a difficult time for me.