Musical Inspiration in Medicine Hat

At the Medicine Hat Portraits of Honour Gala, keynote speaker Terry Kelly performed several of his original songs much to the enjoyment of the large crowd.

Blind since early childhood, Terry has accomplished feats that many sighted people never even attempt. His stories and songs are inspirational and memorable, and on this weekend in Medicine Hat, they resonated throughout all of the events that took place.

As the Portraits of Honour convoy arrived into Medicine Hat more than a dozen emergency vehicles, and several veteran motorcyclists, escorted the trailer to its set up location at the Cypress Center. Hundreds of people lined the roadways waving flags and holding their hands over their hearts in a show of respect. All those who stood there and recognized the arrival of the convoy took time out of their lives to honour those who have served this country. The lyrics of Terry Kelly’s A Pittance of Time speaks of this exact idea saying:

It takes courage to fight in your own war ?It takes courage to fight someone else’s war, our peacekeepers tell of their own living hell. ?They bring hope to foreign lands that the hate mongers can’t kill.

Take two minutes, would you mind? ?It’s a pittance of time ?For the boys and the girls who go over. ?In peacetime our best still don battle dress, and lay their lives on the line,  ?it’s a pittance of time. ?

In Peace may they rest, lest we forget why they died. ?Take a pittance of time.

Those who greeted the convoy took this moment of time, as did those who visited the Cypress Center over the three-day event, and those who were able to visit the mural on the front steps of City Hall because the Mayor had declared a half hour work break so that all employees could come show their support.

The Power of the Dream, another Terry Kelly hit, was also personified when thousands of schoolchildren were brought to view the mural and listen to Dave Sopha speak. The Power of the Dream speaks about seeing things with an open mind, believing in the possibilities, and embracing our differences. By speaking to children about the challenges faced by the Afghan people, and the improvements that Canadians are helping to make, we begin to shape a generation with the capacity for open-mindedness and compassion.

When viewing the Portraits of Honour, one can become overwhelmed by the tragic loss of the young men and women depicted on the canvas.  The days can be sombre and sad, and often those who visit the mural may overlook the person, the life, that came before the loss.  The song Terry Kelly opened with, Celebrate Life, spoke about embracing the good in life and living it to the fullest. The organizers of the Medicine Hat events showed their belief in this idea by creating stand up storyboards for the fallen. Each board told about the individual being depicted, how they had been in life, their dreams, hobbies, and families and sometimes even included their own words. Getting a glimpse of how each of these individuals had lived and contributed to their families and communities made the loss even more palpable but also showed that these young people had enjoyed the years that they were blessed to have.

These heroes, much like Terry Kelly, embraced who and what they were and were able to accomplish extraordinary things. Although their choices did not lead them down an easy path, they journeyed through life in a way that all Canadians can be proud of.