Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Freedom reigns at car shows

Spirit remains intact despite effects of 9/11

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TYPICALLY when I'm tardy for a car show it's due to a dead battery or a lost dog.

But last Sunday when I rolled in a few hours late for the Fabulous 50's Ford Club of Manitoba's 17th annual Flashback Car Show at the Garden City Shopping Centre I had a much better reason.

On the way to the big show I stopped for gas in my hometown, Oakbank, and spotted a nice variety of classic and custom cruisers in the parking lot of the Peppercorn Restaurant on Main Street. The owners of the restaurant were hosting a memorial car show to commemorate the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Hanging out with members of the Springfield Fire and Rescue Service reminded me that although these local heroes charge into burning buildings while the rest of us are running away, they are also fun-loving folks who enjoy the opportunity to shine up their vehicles and rub shoulders with their friends in the community.

Deputy Chief Scott Wilkinson remembers exactly where he was when the events of 9/11 unfolded.

"I was working out in the gym," offered Wilkinson, who in addition to being a volunteer with the Springfield department is also a veteran City of Winnipeg firefighter. "Every year at this time I find myself thinking of the 343 firefighters who lost their lives that day. Tthey were simply doing their jobs and every single person I've ever worked with would have reacted exactly the same way."

As Wilkinson and his fellow firefighters ribbed one another and enjoyed hotdogs and pop provided by the restaurant, I was literally overcome with emotion when the thought entered my mind that hundreds of men and women just like these folks had lost their lives attempting to save the lives of others.

Doug Zawada, a longtime Oakbank resident and a 38-year veteran corrections officer at Stony Mountain Institution had his prized 1967 Dodge Dart on display. Zawada is friends with many of the local emergency services personnel and spoke eloquently about the sacrifices the men and women in uniform who have vowed to protect us make and what we can do to ease the burden.

"It's always in the back of your mind that something tragic can happen, but thanks to the support we receive from family, friends and members of the community it reminds us that people truly do appreciate our efforts."

As I drove to the Flashback car show in Garden City in my battered old 1949 Pontiac (with no radio) my mind couldn't help but reflect on the lives lost that day. I thought about the 3,000 people who call Oakbank home and dreadfully imagined how it would feel if they were all tragically killed the way those nearly 3,000 people's lives were taken away in the United States of America 10 years ago.

Normally I'm a pretty upbeat dude, but last Sunday it was tough not to be depressed.

Thankfully, when I rolled into the big show and spotted the more than 1,000 classic and special interest vehicles on display at the Garden City Shopping Centre parking lot it brightened my day.

Thousands of smiling auto enthusiasts of all ages, creeds and colours were together enjoying a beautiful summer day in Manitoba. On the surface it may have just appeared to be a car show, but for me and I suspect more than a few others in attendance, it was a resounding reminder that those terrorists may have wounded us on that horrible day, but our spirit remains intact.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 16, 2011 F2

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