Thursday, May 27, 2010

Truth, Duty, Valour

Four years ago this summer we watched our son march through this arch into the grounds of Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. It was there that he became a cadet about to embark on his academic and military training which would sculpt him into an Officer in the Canadian Forces.

It was a long stretch of time for him - the blink of an eye for his parents as we watched our boy develop leadership skills, kindle team trust and learn how to handle himself in situations that no parent wants to consider. During those four years, our boy became a graduate, an Officer and a man.

Don and I attended his graduation last week. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaƫlle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada was among the many who attended and addressed the graduating class.

She received an honourary doctorate in Military Science and delivered the convocation address to the graduating officer cadets. She spoke eloquently and beautifully about the many ways our Canadian Forces have made, and continue to make positive changes in the world - in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Haiti. She emphasized the importance of family support and the contribution made to the success of the forces. This was a most appreciated sentiment which resurfaced throughout the convocation and commissioning events.

We were sitting a fair distance from the presentations and it helped that they had large monitors which brought the various speakers into closer focus. That didn't help however with the challenge of trying to get a few photos in the large, dimly-lit room. As Jeffrey stepped up in line to receive his degree, he turned back and looked right at me. I took this photo from across the room.

He and his fellow graduates were in traditional full dress, scarlet uniform. Jeffrey received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Military and Strategic Studies, after which more speeches ensued - spoken in our two official languages.

After the ceremony, Jeffrey changed into his "civies' (civilian clothes for all us non-military types) and we enjoyed dinner at Red Lobster but had to hurry back to RMC to see the Sunset Ceremony. I'll write more about that another time. For now, I'll fast-forward to Friday morning when the class of 2010 received their Commission and officially became Officers in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay addressed the graduates and spoke of the good work our troops are doing in Afghanistan. He acknowledged our most recent loss at the time - an earlier graduate of RMC, Colonel Geoff Parker. Sadly there's been yet another since then.

Chief of Defence Staff General, Walter Natynczyk gave our boys some wise advice. "Speak, act and live the truth. No less is acceptable. Your duty is to do what is right and proper all the time."

Parents and friends were then invited onto the parade square to be with their sons and daughters as they received their military Commission. Major General Walter Semianiw, Chief of Military Personnel presented Jeffrey with his, and he kindly posed with him for a few photos.

The newly commissioned Officers then marched off of the parade square and through the arch - hats and helmets held high atop their swords. This moment, among several others was very emotional, and many a teary eye glistened in the afternoon sun.

Jeffrey is now a Second Lieutenant in the Canadian Armed Forces. He will spend the next several months in Cornwall, Ontario to acquire his training in Air Traffic and Air Weapons Control. I am very relieved that he chose to transfer from his first trade of choice which was Infantry. I'm certain that he knows how fiercely proud we are of him. I am in awe of the man he has become in just twenty-three short years but I still hold close the little boy he was, and always will be to me.

Thank you, my son for giving me the enormous pleasure of being your mother.

Thanks also to Jeffrey's Aunt Trudy and cousin June and of course, Frank for driving out for the events and sharing our pride


Steve Gravano said...

Wow, congratulations you must be so proud. I don't know if I'd be able to photograph through the tears.

Tabor said...

Hilary you have created stunning photos of him. These are priceless. I always love a man in uniform...even if the history has continued to have them wear pill box hats.

NJ said...

Congratulations to your son on his graduation. He looks so handsome in his uniform. I can imagine how proud you must feel. They must have been very hot yesterday. Although it's always a bit cooler down by the water in Kingston. I was in Belleville in the afternoon and it was 37 degrees.

Leah J. Utas said...

Congratulations. I'm so grateful for your son and those like him who step up and step in where most of us would rather not be.

Bubblewench said...

Congratulations! I have happy goose bumps from this! What a great young man you raised!

Phyllis E said...

And I thought pill box hats went out with Jackie Kennedy!

Congratulations to you and Don. And to Jeffrey of course!!!!!

Air Traffic and Air Weapons Control sounds MUCH better than infantry to a Cuzzie's ears.

The Stowe Cuzzies.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Hilary: A hearty congrats to Jeffery and to you for raising such a neat son. I love the photo of the hat on the sword.

Brian Miller said...

woohoo! big smiles today. i know you are proud, as he should be as well. congratulations...and i am sure it was a pleasure for him to have a mom like you...

jdsanc said...

My husband was in the USAF for 22 years, and even though it was, for the most part, a wonderful life, I would find it hard to be the mother of such a man. You have done it well. What a handsome son, and what a world of adventures are waiting for him.

Linda said...

I know you are very proud, and rightfully so. It's clear you did a great job raising this fine young man. You have some great pictures to preserve those special moments.

Daryl said...

mazel tov!

So handsome .. even with those odd looking and clearly from the marks on his head tight hat/cap ...

So . in the first photo .. does anyone else see a man with green hair?

Susie @ A Slice of My Life said...

Your pride in Jeffrey comes across so beautifully. You've every right to that pride, your son had become a handsome and very noble young man.

Zuzana said...

Beautiful narrative and images; you must be such a proud mother. What a dashing young man your son is in that red uniform and you can see the sense of accomplishment in his eyes.
I have to admit that your Defence Minister Peter MacKay is truly a handsome man.;)

the Bag Lady said...

Congratulations to Jeffrey! You must be very proud.
He looks wonderfully handsome in his uniform, and I, like cousin Leah, am grateful to him for choosing to become a part of our armed forces. I hope for him to enjoy a long and relatively peaceful career.

Paul C said...

What an excellent and endearing chronicle of your son's graduation! How special to have the Governor General provide the address. (I kind of wish there was a photo here of the proud parents.)

Dianne said...

He is such a fine looking young man with a kind face and a quick shy smile and a proud stance


these photos are so wonderful, thank you for sharing it all with us

CiCi said...

Wonderful pictures, with so much emotion. I too am glad your son will be in air traffic and air weapons control. Congratulations on Jeffrey's graduation. Wishing him continued success.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful pictures Hilary, and I can understand your justifiable pride.

Bossy Betty said...

Congratulations to both you and your son. You must be SO proud. These picture capture so perfectly this moment in time.

messymimi said...


He is a fine young man, and will make a wonderful officer.

Momma, you did great.

Cricket said...

With sincere congratulations for your son, and of course, for his proud Mom as well.

I said before there's a reason all those kids look over at the crowds and say "Hi, Mom!" You managed to preserve your moment forever.

My pick for the day: your favorite rendition of O Canada. Believe it or not, a friend of mine used to do this as a surprisingly effective tuba solo. Well, why not?

Frank Baron said...

It was a fine couple of days. The weather gods cooperated (tho' they MIGHT have turned down the heat a tad), the ceremonies were impressive and the fireworks were terrific.

It was a pleasure just being around so many proud, joyous folks.

I'm sure Jeffrey is going to have an outstanding career.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Oh, so moving, congrats to you all :)

Sueann said...

I can so feel your pride and love for him. Congrats to Jeffrey and I wish him continued success. He looks fantastic. What a special day!

Nancy said...

I can feel the pride you have for your amazing son in this post. Congratulations to him and to you for doing a job well-done. We bring them into the world and then we stand back in awe as we see how utterly capable they really are.

Tammie Lee said...

you must all be so proud and relieved and joyful. Your photos have truly captured a treasured moment in your lives!

photowannabe said...

Stunning pictures Hilary of a very special day. You have so much to be proud of and Your son displays what manhood is all about.
I got teary-eyed just looking at the photos. Congratulations to the entire family. Canada should be proud.

Karen said...

I am teary. I remember our son's graduation from military school. You know, they become men, but always your boy. I think his new choice is better than infantry. Blessings**

Land of shimp said...

Oh Hilary, you must be so understandably proud! He does the uniform proud, he truly does.

We, all of us, dream of a world in which there will be no need of soldiers, some day may it actually be so. Until then it stands to the men and women of honour, such as your son, to see us through until then with integrity. I don't think we could be in better hands.

Heck, I even threw in a Canadian U on honour. It was, and is, an honour to be part of this on any level.

Sandi McBride said...

Congratulations! I know you have to be proud of your gallant son...Good luck to him in his career...

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

This post brought tears to my eyes (and I confess they aren't staying put very well at all). What a blessing to have these wonderful photos of Jeffrey's graduation, and even a bigger blessing to have Jeffrey for your son!
As a military wife, I have always been grateful that my husband chose to train out of the infantry (he is now medical). As a mom, I second what jdcoughlin said...

Kat said...

I am just all teary eyed for you. You have every right to be the proud mama. What a fabulous young man! :)

~JarieLyn~ said...

I got choked up reading this too. Congratulations on raising such a wonderful son. I am proud of every military person. It shows real courage and strength.

I had no idea that there was a Red Lobster in Canada. I don't know why that is such a fun fact for me but I got a kick out of reading that.

Mental P Mama said...

WOW. What a fine man. With a fine family. My father graduated from the US equivalent, West Point, in 1946! I have a feeling of how amazing such a feat is, and I am glad he is not in Infantry. May God Bless all our soldiers.

abb said...

Well this is all kinds of wonderful!

And this is the very best quote I've heard:

"Thank you, my son for giving me the enormous pleasure of being your mother."

Congratulations, proud mama. You've done good.

abb said...

And Daryl? That green hair in the first photo has a bunch of blue in it as well!

Country Girl said...

What a beautiful collection of memories from such a profoundly wonderful day in all of your lives. So great, Hilary. Congratulations.

Kelly H-Y said...

WOW! What a stunning tribute ... you must be so proud of your young man. You've done well as a parent. :-) Beautiful photos.

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

Hilary: What stirring photographs of such a special event for your son and family. Wow! You must be bursting with pride.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Fantastic, Hilary!! Your exquisite photos are an incredible tribute to the extraordinary young man who is your son...Congratulations to you both! And may I add that I admire you both immensely? It's true. I do. Love, Janine XO

SandyCarlson said...

God bless him. That is wonderful. He is quite a handsome soldier. I feel your pride, and I am happy with you.

Pauline said...

What a marvelous post! Your pride and love show through every word. How handsome your son is in his uniform - and that look across the room! I bet he feels as proud to have you as his mama as you are to have him as your son!

blunoz said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences and photos from the festivities. You've done an excellent job raising your son. I hope my boys turn out as well as Jeffrey. Congratulations to Jeffrey on his graduation and commissioning, and congratulations to you for raising such a fine young man.

Hilary said...

• Thank you, Steve. We are indeed. And I relied on autofocus just in case. ;)

• Tabor, thank you but I only captured what was before me yet i have to agree that he looks good in his uniform. The hats accompany the Scarlets for special events. This was certainly one of them. Thanks for your kind words. :)

• NJ, thanks kindly. We are of course very proud of him. This event took place last Thursday and Friday. It was very warm but we weren't into this heat wave yet, thank goodness. And the breeze was really nice. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you so much, Leah. I'm also so grateful for him and others of his ilk. :)

• Bubblewench, nice to see you. Thank you so much for your kind words. :)

• Stowe Cuzzies.. thank you very much from all of us.. Alex too. It sounds far better to my ears also. Hugs right back at you, Phyllis. :)

• Thanks, Fishing Guy. His Dad and I appreciate your kind words very much. :)

• Brian, you've got that right.. very proud, indeed. Thanks kindly. :)

• JD, I've had this concern for the past four years. Time will tell whether I ever will relax if and when he is deployed to a turbulent area. Thank you so much for your very kind words. They're very much appreciated. :)

• Linda, thank you. Your kind comment is very much appreciated. :)

• Daryl, thank you. The pill box hats are a longstanding tradition and I don't know if they were all that tight but it was pretty hot that day and the uniform is made of thick felt so I'm sure he had some serious hat head. What green hair? ;) Yes, I was wondering who would notice it first. I'm not surprised that it was you. :)

• Susie, thank you so much. Your beautiful words are very much appreciated. :)

• Zuzana, his Dad and I are indeed very proud of him. And it doesn't surprise me that you think so about Peter MacKay. I know my bloggie friends! Thanks, Z. :)

• Thanks, Baggie. We're all pretty proud. Your beautiful wishes truly mean a lot to me. Thank you, my friend. :)

• Paul, thank you. It was a very touching event and she spoke so beautifully. This photographer is rather camera-shy, so you won't likely see the Mom and Dad shot.. sorry. ;)

• Dianne, thanks very much. I see you read him well. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you. :)

• TechnoBabe, thank you. I'm so relieved about his change of trade, too. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Moannie, thank you very kindly. Much appreciated. :)

• Betty, we're all very proud for sure. Thank you so much for your kind comment. :)

• MessyMimi, thank you. His Dad and I are very proud of how this man turned out. :)

• Cricket, thank you, my friend. Your warm words always make me smile. O Canada is indeed appropriate.. tuba, eh? Why not, indeed. Thanks, C. :)

• Frank, I'm so glad you were there with us for this event. I know that Jeffrey was glad to have you attend. Thanks always for being there. :)

Hilary said...

• Thank you, Gary. I appreciate your kind comment. :)

• SueAnn, thank you so much. Your lovely words mean a lot to me. :)

• Nancy, you're so right. We feel enormous pride and they truly do amaze us with how quickly and how well they mature. Thanks so much for your kind words. :)

• Tammie Lee, thank you. You've got that exactly right. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Sue, thank you so kindly. Such lovely sentiments are so appreciated. Thank you. :)

• Karen, you know what it's like for sure. And I sure agree with you about his choice of trade. Thanks for your kind wishes. :)

• Shimp, thank you so much my friend. You always speak so eloquently and I feel like I'm tripping over my words to express my gratitude to you for your kind words. And I noticed your extra U right off the bat. You're an honoUrary Canadian, eh? ;)

• Thanks very much, Sandi. Much appreciated. :)

• KC, I knew that this post would mean something to you. Thank you so much for your sweet thoughts. They mean a lot to me. :)

• Thanks kindly, Kat. You'll have a lot of proud moments ahead of you with your full house. Thanks so much for stopping by. :)

• JarieLyn, thanks very kindly for your thoughts about Jeffrey. That's so funny that you got a kick out of Canadian Red Lobsters. I'm always amused to know that there are a few Tim Horton's in the U.S. ;)

• MPM, thank you so much. That's cool that your father was a West Point graduate. I hope he had a great career. Thanks for the visit. :)

• TSannie, thank you. His Dad and I are both so proud. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)

• Thanks so much, Kate. Your kind comments mean a lot to me. Much appreciated. :)

• Kelly, thank so much for all of your kind words. You bet I'm proud! :)

• Bonnie, indeed we are. Thanks kindly for such nice words. :)

• Thank you, Janine. You're too sweet. You always have the kindest things to say and they're so appreciated. Thanks for your good wishes. :)

• Sandy, thank you, my friend. That means so much to me. :)

• Pauline, thanks kindly. Such warm words made me smile. Thanks for that. :)

• Kevin, thank you so much. If anyone has an inkling of what's ahead for him, it's you. I have no doubt that your boys will turn out fantastic. They have such a great Dad .. and Mom. Thanks kindly for your good wishes. :)

VM Sehy Photography said...

Very cool. Congratulations!

LadyFi said...

Awww.. amazing photos of an amazing young man! I can just feel your love shining through. And that photo of him look at you from across the room is beautiful!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"I still hold close the little boy he was, and always will be to me."

Boy, do I understand that.

Your support and courage for your son is most commendable. I hope the best for him in the future to come. I don't think the young men who choose this route receive the recognition deserved. Most brave. Most honorable.

Kathleen said...

Hilary! What a remarkable (and let me add handsome) son you have. No wonder you are proud. And I can feel and share your relief.

Russell said...

C-O-N-G-R-A-T-U-L-A-T-I-O-N-S !!!!!

My goodness! Words do not begin ..... in fact, there are no words sufficient to express such feelings as those that leap off the photos in this post.

I hope you develop some of these images and place each in a beautiful frame.

A wonderful achievement for your son and a reflection upon you as his parent.

Congratulations to you and your family at such a special time!

Hilary said...

Congrats have obviously done a fine job. Handsome young man!!!!
I would love to have seen a picture of the pride on his Mum's face!

Suldog said...

I teared up sightly, myself, just viewing the photos and reading your words. Congratulations to Jeffrey, and to you. You both do your wonderful country proud.

Redbush said...

Congratulations to Jeffrey, and you, Hilary! You must be so proud to have raised such a dignified individual. The pride is obviously emanated in the photos. Great shots, and something you will hold dear to you throughout his new career. Without youth like your son, the world would be much different. Wishing all the best to Jeffrey.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations...what a wonderful event! Your son looks so handsome and regal. You must be so proud! You got some really great photos...the bright reds just pop.
Thanks for stopping by. I've been having a blogger's block lately and taking a small break until the inspiration hits me and things slow down a little, too. Have a great Memorial Day weekend! We will be having the kids and grandkids visiting...such fun : )

Scott Law said...

How great is that!!! As a retired U.S. Army Officer I salute you and your son.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Brilliant photos!!! Really spectacular. The one where he turned to look at you is priceless. What a proud occasion. I'm wondering if I dare to hope that one day, when one of my kids is being honoured for something if they will think to look my direction instead of the constant back-of-the-head shots I get now...

blunoz said...

Question - So why do some of them wear helmets and some where pill-box hats?

Ed Pilolla said...

the vibrant colors of the photos mirror the color of your love for your son. congratulations!

Cloudia said...


God Bless Canada and your son

Aloha from Hawaii, Friend

Comfort Spiral

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh Hilary! Those are fabulous pictures. And how perfect that you were at the ready to snap that one special pic of Jeffrey when he turned and looked directly at you.

Sending cheers of support and congratulations to you and your family! THanks for sharing your special day with us.


Lynda G. said...

Congratulations! You have every right to be proud! I would be! What a remarkable story. All my best to your son.

Anonymous said...

How fabulously proud you must be. A fantastic, heart-warming most about a seemingly great young guy. Congrulations to you and your son.

Grayquill said...

I was doing fine through the whole post until I got to the end when you wrote about the little boy - there I lost it - thankfully I have a fresh handkerchief Just so you know that was a bit mean of you to catch me off guard like that.

Hilary said...

• Thanks, VM. Much appreciated. :)

• LadyFi, thank you so kindly. That's my favourite photo of the bunch. Thanks for the lovely comment. :)

• MJ, I know you can commiserate. Our kidlets never really grow up in our hearts. Thank you so much for such kind and thoughtful words. They're so appreciated. :)

• Kathleen, thank you very much for your kind, supportive words. They mean a lot to me. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Russell, thank you, my friend. I expect I will be printing and framing some of these. Your warm and wonderful words are very much appreciated by all of us. Thank you so much for that. :)

• Thank you, Hilary. His Mom.. and Dad were mighty proud of him, indeed. Thanks for the visit and kind words. :)

• Suldog, thank you for such beautiful sentiments. They mean a great deal to all of us. Very much appreciated. :)

• Thank you, Redbush. Yes, I'm very proud indeed. Thank you very much for your kind words. They're so appreciated. :)

• LadyCat, thank you kindly. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and I appreciate your kind words. I know what that blogger's block is like. Just take advantage of it and enjoy your rest. And especially enjoy your family time. :)

• Thanks kindly, Scott. We salute you right back! :)

• Thank you kindly, IBHH. I don't doubt that one day all of yours will share their proud moments in this way. I'd be willing to bet you! Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Kevin, I asked Jeffrey about that just for you and for Cricket who asked the same question in email. I still have to reply to Cricket unless of course he reads it here first. ;) The pillbox hats are part of their standard ceremonial dress. The pith helmets are to be worn by those in top positions on parade. The feathers (which might look a bit like fur) are worn by the members of the highland band. There's yet another pith-like helmet which is worn by other band members. I hope that explains it. Thanks for the return visit. :)

• Ed, thank you for such kind words. Very much appreciated. :)

• Cloudia, thank you very kindly, friend. :)

• Joanna, thank you so much. I was delighted to capture that particular shot. It's my favourite. Thank you very much for your sweet words. They mean a lot to me. :)

• Lynda, thank you kindly. Your good wishes are very much appreciated. :)

• ED, you bet I am! Thank you very much for your kind words. :)

• Thank you, Grayquill.. you old softie. ;) Much appreciated. :)

Cheryl Kohan said...

What a handsome young man, Hilary. He looks so strong and honorable and proud. The photos are perfect. You should frame them all!!! This will sound silly but I actually felt a bit weepy reading your tribute. I guess that's one mother relating to another. Bless you.

ds said...

Congratulations to Jeffrey--and to you for raising such a fine young man! Best of luck to him as he continues his training (I'm glad he's doing Air Control, too).

Sandra said...

Congratulations, Jeffrey! And congratulations "mama" for nurturing such a fine man to adulthood!

Unknown said...

He is so handsome Hilary. I love his smile. I love that the world is his oyster : ) Sending many good wishes his way! : )

Hilary said...

• Cheryl, thank you so kindly for your lovely words. There's definitely a kinship shared by mothers. Thank you for your warm sentiments. :)

• DS thank you for the good wishes and warm hugs. They're very much appreciated. :)

• Thank you, Sandra. His Dad and I are very proud. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• LWK, thank you kindly. I love his smile too. And his brother's smile. Thank you for your very kind wishes. They're so appreciated. :)

lime said...

congratulations to jeffrey and to you. well done, young man. well done!

Kerri Farley said...

Tears are flowing as I read this Hilary ~ what a special son you have and what a special Mom he has :)

Hilary said...

• Thanks very much, Lime. Your kind words are very much appreciated. :)

• Thanks so much, Kerri. It pleases me to know that you were touched by this post. Thanks kindly. :)