Oct 28, 2014

EDITORIAL | Saying Goodbye to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo

Like many of you, I did not know Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. Yet somehow, given the horrific manner in which Cirillo was killed the morning of  Oct. 22nd and the information that has been shared about his life since that time, I can’t help but feel like I have lost a friend.

This sudden closeness comes after seeing so many photos of Nathan Cirillo, a happy, fit, handsome young man, who was proudly serving his country. There’s been photos of him with his 5 year old son, Marcus, and a slew of others showing Cirillo with his dogs...dogs that were rescued and to whom Nathan gave a home.

Many who knew Nathan personally have spoken about his love of life and infectious smile, something quite evident in the photos that now circulate across the globe, thanks to online interest and social media.

Nathan Cirillo’s tragic death was only a part of the insanity that took over our nation’s capital that day and sadly, the second senseless killing of a soldier that week.  Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was deliberately struck and killed by a vehicle in Quebec two days prior to the rampage on the War Memorial and Parliament building in Ottawa.

With all due respect to the soldiers and officers who passed away before him, there’s something about Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s death that sets him apart from the rest. His murder has struck a nerve, tugged at our hearts and brought terror and sorrow very close to home.  

When I see the pix of Nathan and his husky dog, I’m reminded of my pal Rich and his huskies. When I see him with his son, I think of friends like Neil, Rodney and Tim and their young children. When I see Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in his uniform, I’m reminded of those I’ve met who also serve our country in this brave and admirable manner.  

I may not have known Cirillo personally, but because of his similarities to those around me, it feels like I did and it is hard to grasp that his life has suddenly ended, due to the actions of a very messed up individual.

Some have said we can’t call Cirillo’s killer a “real terrorist”, because he a Canadian who acted alone and was not linked to any terrorist groups. I think this incident was more terrifying because it happened here, not the other side of the planet or in the U.S.

It took place at a sacred location, a place we have devoted to honour the brave men and women who fight for our freedom.  A place of peace which is visited by millions, now forever tarnished by a vicious, unthinkable act. An act that took the life of a 24 year old soldier, father, son and friend.

The loss I am feeling is not unique. All I need to do is look at the reactions of my fellow Canadians, whose sadness and disbelief mirrors my own. The tributes. The condolences from near and far. The rows of people who lined the streets when Cirillo was brought home via the Highway of Heroes and then again for his funeral on Oct. 28th. They too share my sadness and disbelief.

Seeing Nathan’s 5 year old son Marcus, dressed in his dad’s hockey jersey – sleeves hanging to the ice - as he dropped the puck at a local hockey game, brought me to tears. Nathan referred to him as “The best son a father could ask for” in a photo originally posted to facebook, which has “gone viral”. He’s just a little kid, too young to really grasp the magnitude of what has happened. 

History will chronicle the horrific events of Oct. 22, 2014, the day Cpl. Nathan Cirillo became a household name - a fallen soldier and friend, forever etched in our minds and in our hearts.