This year, the War on Terror hit uncomfortably close to home. As the Government of Canada agreed to join the United States and other allies in the aerial attacks on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, two of our soldiers, Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo, were killed by two Islamic radicalized Canadians in separate incidents in Quebec and in our nation’s capital.
Richard Foot, in his article, This Remembrance Day Will Be Different: Cpl Cirillo Has Made It real (The Globe And Mail, Nov. 9, 2014) said it well:
Nathan Cirillo is just one soldier, and not even a war veteran at that. Yet his shocking murder as he stood on sentry duty at the National War Memorial – the unforgettable image of him lying on the granite, directly alongside his First World War comrade inside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – has vividly linked the past with the present.
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Nathan Cirillo’s death is a tragedy. But Cpl. Cirillo now speaks to Canadians in a way the Unknown Soldier can’t – by allowing those of us with little or no connection to war to know, if only fleetingly, what the killing of a Canadian soldier feels like; how it sucked the air from our very lungs, upon hearing the awful news.
The attack that killed Corporal Cirillo, gunned down while on guard duty at the National War Memorial, later came to a bloody end as the gunman was shot dead by Sergeant-At-Arms, Kevin Vickers, in the halls of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.
In my first sentence above, I made a statement about this incident hitting close to home. My daughter, Dianna Fioravanti, and her fiancé, Stephene Ashikwe, were in Ottawa together that morning to attend an insurance industry conference.
Their hotel was very close to the drama playing out in the Parliament buildings. They were crossing the street in front of their hotel when they heard shots fired.
Police ordered everyone to hit the ground, and seconds later, they were ordered to run to shelter. They made it to the hotel which went into lock-down for the balance of the day.
As I watched the funeral of Nathan Cirillo on TV, I felt very emotional watching his mother grieve in silence. I thought… there, but for the grace of God, go I…