About the Author: Charlie Smith serves as Public Affairs Officer at U.S. Consulate Vancouver.
The flame is extinguished, most of the revelers have departed, and the streets are navigable once again. You can cross the street at Pender and Thurlow without dodging another four hundred pedestrians walking to or from the Olympic Cauldron. And if you were just now waking in a haze from the party that followed Canada's gold-medal hockey victory over the United States last Sunday (or, for those of us from below the 49th the terrific showing by U.S. athletes), you could be forgiven for thinking that something was missing from this city.
But the truth is that although the cheers have quieted -- for now -- and parking space is available, Vancouver, along with British Columbia and Canada, has gained substantially from the Olympics. As commentators in the United States, Canada and elsewhere have noted with varying mixtures of eloquence, pride and, at times, surprise, Vancouver has emerged with an unfamiliar and appealing confidence in its stride. Despite a shaky start due to bad weather, the city overcame obstacles and met challenges, keeping the athletes and visitors safe. Above all, this host city managed to leave every corner of Canada with a renewed sense of worth and weight.
Outside Canada, the general consensus seems to have been that the Olympics showcased a beautiful and welcoming corner of the globe where -- for two and a half weeks, at least -- the world could lay aside its strife and conflict, and enjoy and celebrate the best of the human spirit.
Most of the television cameras have been packed up and are gone, but don't tune Vancouver out quite yet. Some of the best stories of triumph may yet be to come. The Paralympics are just around the corner and the Cauldron will soon be re-lit for the coda to Vancouve's Olympic idyll.
Still thirsty for another dose of these Winter Games? Get a wrap-up of all the first-hand Olympic experiences from Ambassador Jacobson and Embassy Ottawa staff on blogs.ottawa.usembassy.gov.