Thousands gathered on overpasses along the Highway of Heroes to pay homage and show their support
by Lorraine Payette, written October 25, 2014
Thousands of people came out on Friday, October 23, to pay homage as the body of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was brought home from Ottawa to Hamilton. Local overpasses on the 401 bled with Canadian colours as the procession wound its way respectfully along the Highway of Heroes, preparing to lay another Canadian soldier to rest.
Corporal Cirillo, age 24, was killed in Ottawa at the National War Memorial on Wednesday, October 22, by a gunman linked to the terror group ISIS. Only two days previously, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, age 52, was killed after being intentionally run down in a parking lot in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.
Neither soldier was armed at the time he was attacked.
“It’s absolutely terrible,” said Sandy Wilde. She had trouble dealing with the fact that Cpl. Cirillo’s child will have to grow up never having known him or the father that he would have been.
The families of WO Vincent and Cpl. Cirillo are dealing as best they can with these tragic events. Both have expressed their gratitude to those who have reached out and shown their support.
“Nathan loved the army,” said Cirillo’s family in a released statement. “He had a strong unwavering devotion to duty – he understood what it meant to sustain freedom. He was fearless. Nathan would have done his duty even if he knew this tragedy was coming. Nathan was Canada’s son, he belonged to all of us.”
Federal party leaders Justin Trudeau (Liberal Party of Canada) and Elizabeth May (Green Party) also commented on the killings.
“Canadians know acts such as these committed in the name of Islam are an aberration of (the Muslim) faith,” said Trudeau. “Mutual respect and admiration will help to prevent the influence of distorted ideological propaganda posing as religion.”
May is quoted as saying, “I would put money on these being the acts of isolated, disturbed and deeply troubled men who were drawn to something crazy… I would like to suggest … that we wait for answers from the police before we make assumptions, and that we speak calmly, truthfully and openly to all Canadians.”
Along the Highway of Heroes, people waited patiently to pay their respects.
“It’s great seeing everybody here for them,” said Jordan Allen. “(The killings are) ridiculous – they’re something I don’t even want to think about.”
“Considering it was at the War Memorial, it’s quite an insult to Canada and especially the US,” said Tyler Larouche. “(When you think) how hard we fought, and especially when you think of how patriotic Canadians are, doing this right at the War Memorial is quite an insult. I’m extremely depressed that a soldier was killed, especially considering the fact that he has a six-year-old child at home and he was a single-father, it really hits me a lot. I’m really happy to see Canada giving great crowd support for him and all our troops. We’re such a strong country, I know we’ll bounce back.”
WO Vincent worked to help sick and injured veterans and soldiers, and was considering retirement. Cpl. Carillo was a member of the Army Reserves, and was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown at the National War Memorial. Both men will be sorely missed not only by their families, but by an entire nation still trying to understand how this could happen on Canadian soil.
“(The Muslim Association of Canada) would like to offer its condolences to the victims of violence over the past week,” said the Association in a public statement. “We are horrified by these acts of violence, especially in the Parliament of our nation’s capital. We stand with all Canadians in condemning these attacks and seeking justice for those responsible.”
The Cirillo family offered its thanks for the support they have received from the Canadian Forces, those who came to the soldier’s aid and all those who came out to pay homage. “We’ve always thought we live in the best country in the world, the people just proved it.”
A fund has been set up to help the families of WO Vincent and Cpl. Cirillo. The money raised is to help the families in this time of need, and any excess funds raised will be used to help families of other victims of terrorism in Canada. To learn more or to contribute, please go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-fund-for-the-canadian-victims-of-terrorism . MPP Steve Clark has also started a book of condolences which may be signed at his constituency office at Suite 101, 100 Strowger Boulevard in Brockville throughout the week. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.