Tag Archives: Aaron Girard


Dateline: Saturday, April 25, 2015

Guest essay by Aaron Girard


ANZAC Memorial

100th anniversary of ANZAC in Perth

Today is the holiday in Australia to commemorate the men and women who have served in the Australian and New Zealand armed forces. Today also marks the 100th anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Armed Coalition forces landing on the shores of Gallipoli during WWI.

I was fortunate enough to be involved in the events today in Downtown Perth, which included a sunrise service at King’s Park and a parade down St. George’s Terrace, and included representatives from Normandy D-Day veterans to soldiers from the Afghanistan conflict. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to see a wide diversity of backgrounds including Greek, Vietnamese, Korean, Malay, German, Bornean, Māori and Aboriginal peoples, as well as a representative from the Turkish government. It was an exciting experience filled with historical context and the chance to meet a cross section of the world’s population that I have never had the opportunity to mingle with before.ANZAC2

It seems like an appropriate time to remember my trip in December to the new ANZAC Museum in Albany, Western Australia.  One of the things I saw there gave me a very emotional moment. There was a plaque posted with a statement from the first President of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk (which you can see here).  It came to my attention that exactly 100 years ago today, Kemal Ataturk and Stanley Bruce, the future Prime Minister of Australia, met on the battlefield in Gallipoli, Turkey. When both of those men eventually became leaders of their countries, they met to proclaim governmental agreements and future peace, and exchanged gifts of memorabilia that they had carried with them on the battlefield, those many years ago. Until the day he died, Bruce kept that golden cigarette case as one of his most cherished possessions. Chilling and heart-warming at the same time, it gives an example of how things can come full circle and actually have a chance to work for the benefit of the people and countries of the world.

Interestingly enough, yesterday marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, as recognised by many countries in the world.  Also interesting is that the events that ocurred within 24 hours of each other on either side of the modern day country of Turkey are recognised very differently around the world after 100 years. If you are not familiar with the history of Armenia and the Caucasus region in general, I strongly suggest you read about it from multiple sources.  The region sits in the relatively small distance between places that you may know very well from modern events: Sochi, Russia; Mosul, Iraq; and Tabriz, Iran.  The region is smaller than Texas, for frame of reference.  So many different cultures, languages, and religions squeezed into a small area bordered on two sides by seas (Black to the west Caspian to the east) has caused significant hardship but also amazing historical figures and stories over the last several millennia.

In any case, I am not trying to profess or make political statements. I just found it very interesting how two similar events involving similar peoples on almost exactly the same day have such different outcomes after a century. They both were represented here on the other side of the world.  It’s a very interesting dialogue about how the world works, and I have not seen the two events remarked upon at the same time.  It also made me think about how important education of events in our world, past and current, is so important to how things turn out in the future.

Keep thinking and keep educating yourself and others. I’ll continue thinking and writing (this time I promise). 🙂

Aaron Girard © 2015

You can email Aaron ==> Email Aaron

Musings on the Wonder of Seasons Down Under

Musings on the Wonder
Of Seasons Down Under

Warm, gentle breezes tickle palm trees outside my living room window across the Swan River.  Is it really December?  Looking up from my work, laid out across my home coffee table, my situation grows ever more hopeless.  Hopeless, that is, to refrain from lapping up the serene eye-candy; hopeless to refrain from pondering the weather of Christmas seasons past.

 It’s nearly 30 degrees (that’s 86 degrees to my friends and family stateside). The quivering palms awaken me to this new December experience. They beckon me to escape within my own “down-under” dreamland.  December in Perth, Western Australia is not at all like wintry climes of all my earlier Christmas seasons.  Here, spring is giving way to summer; hardly my usual Christmas experience.

Palm trees across the Swan River

Palm trees across the Swan River

Shall I abandon the task before me? Or — now distracted — shall I politely refuse the palms’ offer and, instead, meditate with gratitude on my family, my friends and cheery memories of Decembers-past?  With 21st century magic, “home” is only a click away. Contemplation on the gifts of family, friends and memories of earlier Christmas seasons nudges my thoughts to drift away … drift away to special people and times when holiday pleasantries were carefully exchanged by hand-written letters and cards.



People in my life, many dear to me, have had first-hand experience of “the wonder of down-under”, and had already explained some of the mystery to me before I arrived here, some four months ago. My mother’s sister and my father’s brother had been to the “Land of Oz” on work related travel.  My paternal grandparents made a vacation during my childhood.  My 3rd grade teacher did a one year life-swap to Australia as well.

The much younger me was so excited to have pins, stamps, boomerangs and even Vegemite from someplace that — even in my dreams — was a wild and far-off place. These were before internet was commonplace and mobile phones with video chats were still a far-off dream.  I will never forget that I was a part of those trips too, for example, by the Expo Oz (World Expo ‘88) stuffed platypus and postcards I received.  But those times were different, as now I can share my own experiences daily, and often instantaneously.

What a wonderful thing to be able to just be a part of so many others’ lives … and share experiences from so far away! It is no small wonder that we can forget what it was like before. I have been lucky enough that on all of my travels of the last decade, I have had instant communication and do not know what it is like to truly be far away. As in: “out of touch; Incommunicado.”  However, this may not be all good, because now I am very far away on a regular basis, and the sheer wonderment of thought that my family is literally a half a world away is somewhat of a triviality.

But as we know, there are pros and cons to everything, and if I take a step back and remember the excitement I had as an eight year old lad — with a tube of Vegemite in one hand and a map in the other — then the pros very much outweigh the cons of this ability to share on a moment’s notice.  We can be a part of someone else’s life while also having our own adventures, and then all the adventures in the world seem attainable.

My few months here have underscored my own experience of how the world has changed in just a few decades.  We can meet different people from all over the world in one place: physically and digitally (i.e. via internet-based video). We all know that ‘Western Civilization’ is changing the way things work. But would you have imagined that an American and Romanian together could walk into a grocery store in Australia and both can navigate it and say “this feels like home”?

The homogeneity of the way we live our lives is sometimes more mind blowing than the differences we experience. I still love to meet and talk with people from all over the globe, no matter where we are at that moment. It’s true that many of my closest friends call “home” someplace far from mine.  Even though the world may seem big, with friends like these it can feel small. And yet: the world is still a very large place and home can be very far away.

Sometimes I may feel like I don’t have a home in the physical sense, but being part of a closely knit group of people can make almost anyplace feel like home. Colorado is where I grew up, and a major part of my family is there. But the houses I grew up in are the homes of others now; when I visit Colorado it is just that: a visit. This is why I am so happy to have the chance to share my life with people through electronic communication and fast modes of transportation. I feel lucky to have that connection with people in many places all over the world, at the same time.



To me, Christmas is not about the holiday and the shopping, but about spending time with those who mean the most to me.  We have a chance to catch up, share stories, and be connected when we may have not felt so during the rest of the year. We spend time together over the Christmas week of “down time” to relax and recharge – to prepare ourselves.  It is a time to reflect on the things that have happened, and to look forward to new adventures. The time between the holiday and the celebration of a new year is just under 2% of the entire year, but often seems to be some of the most memorable.

This holiday season, I am farther away from my family than ever before, but still close enough (thanks to high speed digital magic) to share our life experiences, our hopes, and our love for each other.

So much has happened this year as well, for me and the ones I care about, that it’s difficult to get my head around it all. Many of these experiences I will hold dear for the rest of my life. I hope all of you have had a very busy and memorable year – in a positive way – and will keep those memories with you as well.

We are lucky when we have people in our lives that are important to us, and vice versa.  It’s what makes the human race a very special race.  Because of that, I know that my home is wherever I decide to put it, and that no matter where my family (blood or not) is, they will be a part of my home.

Much love and a happy blessed 2015 to you all,


Aaron Girard © 2015

You can email Aaron ==> Email Aaron

Aaron’s earlier (not so cheery) Guest Essay

Joe Out

Hello fellow readers of Joe’s Girardmeister blog.

My name is Aaron, his eldest son. I’ve been asked for a while to do some sort of guest essay, but unfortunately I have to start today under some undesirable circumstances. Hopefully it will continue with some other thoughts and musings, but for now my role is set to messenger.

On May 1st, 2014, Joe was involved in a car crash while stopped at a stoplight in Boulder. He was hit from behind in his brand new Nissan Altima, which he had not even had the pleasure of filling the tank on, considering he’d had it for 167 miles and less than 5 days. Fortunately, the car did exactly what it was supposed to do and crumpled according to the designed specs; the driver’s seat even broke to take some of the impact force.  It was quite overwhelming to see the photos of the site and cars, considering the fact he was hit at an estimated 45 MPH, but we were all happy to see that he seemed healthy and relatively undamaged. He went to the hospital and had a few X-rays done to check some bruised areas for breaks, but the diagnosis was an all clear. We all counted our blessings and were happy to write the car off as long as we had a healthy dad and husband.  As you readers may know, he is no stranger to car crashes. Even during the accident he was coherent and knew he was getting hit, so we all felt comfortable that he knew what he was feeling and was healthy.

Shortly after heading home from the hospital, however, a bump on the left side of his forehead started to rise. About four days later, the uncomfortable headaches and sensitivity to light arose. It quickly became apparent that he’d had a head injury and something needed to be done, probably fast.  I immediately decided to go to my apartment, pack my car, and take the 14 hour drive from Houston to Colorado to help out at home, because the stress levels were rising and that was the last thing that he needed to deal with.  I just had to make sure I drove safe through the storm in north Texas and get home safely, which I did. During my drive, a CT scan was done in Boulder, leading to a probable diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury. This was news that we realized would be the beginning of a big challenge, and I was glad that I had the ability to be there and assist with anything I can do for my father.

In any case, it will be a while until we see a new essay from Joe.  He’s been told to relax, not exercise, stay calm, and sleep as much as necessary to allow his brain to heal itself. The next weeks will be a challenge, because he is generally very active both physically and mentally, and both of those things are not desirable during this recovery period. I’ll be around and taking notes on everything, and hopefully allowing him to dictate thoughts and stories, so you avid readers hopefully won’t go thirsty for lack of essays and musings. For any of you who have been enjoying these musings, as I have, we will gladly be accepting guest essays and will post them here.

For now, we wish you much love and happiness. Please drive safe, count your blessings, and enjoy the company of your family and friends. Anything can happen at any time.