The Words of the Stewart Family
Ottawa, Canada - They came, they saw, they conquered … Canadian hearts. The Little Angels visit to Ottawa, the beautiful capital city of the great nation of Canada, was a wonderful, emotional, breath-taking, tearful, whirlwind experience. Between their arrival, late on June 17 until their departure directly after their exhilarating performance at the National Arts Centre (NAC) on the afternoon of June 20 the Little Angels captivated all those they met and who saw them perform.
First on the list were the Mayor of Ottawa, His Worship Larry O´Brien, and his staff in City Hall, whom the Angels visited on the morning of June 18. The Little Angels surprised them by singing in English and French as Ottawa is the capital of a bilingual nation! This remarkable feat was repeated in each performance that was given and was much appreciated by francophone Canadians who could always be seen singing along when the Little Angels were singing in French. It was evident that the Mayor himself was especially impressed and touched by the Little Angels' winning ways.
Next to be won over were H.E Ambassador Ha Chan-Ho of the Republic of Korea, his wife and staff at the dinner hosted at the Ambassador's official residence for the tour party, being led with great energy and charisma by Dr. Bo Hi Pak. The Embassy had been integrally involved in preparing for this visit and was directly responsible for inviting the Korean War veterans to all the events held on June 20, for which the tour management was most grateful.
On June 19 the main event was a visit to the Perley Rideau Veterans Home, where 250 veterans live permanently, over 20 of whom participated in the Korean conflict. This was a very intimate experience with the Angels at one point spreading out to embrace members of the audience the majority of whom were in wheelchairs. It was often hard for the Angels to move onto the next person as once some members of the audience had an Angel in their arms they did not want to let go! There were many tears as the children sang and played the kayakum, a traditional Korean instrument that seemed to enchant the listeners by the looks on their faces.
The big day was June 20. For the Korean War veterans, of whom there were at least 500 at the performance, there were three events. First was an 11:00 am ceremony at the National War Memorial.
Senator Yonah Kim Martin, the first Korean Canadian to hold national public office and the government's representative speaker at the Little Angels performance, spoke to the two girls who laid a wreath on behalf of Korean youth and the Little Angels at the War Memorial Ceremony on the morning of June 20.
This was followed by a lunch reception hosted by the Korean Embassy in the NAC and then the highlight of the day, the Little Angels performance. The 2233-seat Southam Hall was virtually full, and the audience responded with cheers, tears, and a standing ovation to the dazzling artistry of the whirling, drumming, dancing, singing Little Angels. It was clear that this was a day for the veterans, whom Dr. Pak thanked in tears, "for saving my nation, for saving my life." He then warmly embraced the four veterans who came to the stage to receive medals from the Little Angels, a scene that touched all in the audience, as was expressed by Chantal in her thanks to Daniel Stringer, who did so much to fill the venue, "A huge thank you for the tickets. The show was remarkable, it made us cry at the end. Very touching."
Veteran Glen Wiberforce spoke for all veterans that, "Watching the Little Angels perform like that brought tears to my eyes, seeing them made everything that I have done, going to Korea, worthwhile."
After the Little Angels went on their way to some well-earned rest at Niagara Falls, Dr. Pak invited all the staff to dinner. He declared that the Canadian experience and especially the NAC performance was "A plus." That says it all. Many thanks to Dr. Chae Hee Lee and all those who volunteered to help, especially Franco Famularo, our excellent bi-lingual master of ceremonies.