I’m going to assume that everyone reading this is aware of the Ottawa shooting that occurred at Parliament Hill & the National War Memorial on October 22nd, 2014. Perhaps because I live in Ottawa myself, it’s different when you live ‘next door’ to world events where it feels like that’s all anyone is talking about.
Regardless how many details you do or don’t know, there is really only one thing you need to remember.
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo
He stood guard for those soldiers left unknown, gave strength to a nation, and from what’s been said has come across as an honest Canadian. A young, single father from Hamilton who hadn’t had the easiest run at life, working two jobs to try and support himself and his son. He was on his way to a distinguished career and volunteered for the duty of guarding the Cenotaph of the Unknown Solider at the National War Memorial.
He was a son, a father, a solider, and … he was profoundly Canadian.
A statement that is resonating with countless others this past week and, I’m sure, many more to come. My family has a military background and while I would never join as an active solider I am certainly a supporter and a firm believer that ‘If you don’t stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them’. I have so much respect for the men and women who dedicate their lives to our country, as Cpl. Cirillo did, and am heartbroken that another human could intentionally kill an innocent, unarmed man. A man who probably would have risked his own life to save the other if the situation had been reversed.
The news continues to unfold and I’m cautious of the political strings that have inevitably threaded their way into the subject, and how it influences our participation with the US campaign against ISIS. As Canadians we get to make countless decisions in our daily lives but with this particular distinction also comes an amazing opportunity; the chance to make the purposeful choice for peace. Making the conscious decision for peace does not mean that to defy intimidation we have to declare war. Nor does it mean we lack a backbone, you need more than a little iron in you to survive our frequent -40 winters. It means that we want to live in peace, we CHOOSE to live in peace, and that we will not tolerate those within our boarders who destroy that.
I am wary of those that compare it to a ‘Canadian 9/11’ and I’m ashamed of those that downgrade it by claiming we are better off mourning and focusing on those killed by drunk drivers or other such similar events. This was a life, no matter whose it was, that was lost to another’s willful intent to kill. This was no accident. We will always have subjects of concern, areas of our lives and politics that need improvement, but to try and take away the imminent reality of this mans death is shameful. Ashley Csanady with the Ottawa Citizen said it perfectly “He was killed while standing before a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who fell before him on the mantel of our democracy and freedom.”
Lawyer Barbara Winters was one of the four passersby who took action trying to revive Cpl. Cirillo, her account of what happened is absolutely wrenching when I think back to those first few moments the news broke and I was certain he was going to pull through ok.
It seems a heartbreak the world will not, and should not, be forgetting anytime soon.