Susan Clairmont (from the Hamilton Spectator in her brilliantly written coverage of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo introduced her article...He Has Become Canada's Hero...with the following paragraph.
In the stunning Christ's Church Cathedral, the veteran with the cane and the chest full of medals struggles into the church aisle as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo passes. He squeezes between two young pall-bearers ~ Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders with tears in their eyes ~ to reach the flag-draped coffin. The old soldier steadies himself and gently places a poppy on the casket.
It is one of the beautiful moments that unfolds amid the despair.
This is Nathan's farewell.
Dignitaries slip in quietly with little pomp and circumstance. Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks the center aisle, holding his wife Laureen's hand. There are heroes among us. The lawyer, the nurse, the corporal and the passersby who ran toward the gunshots last Wednesday (October 22) in Ottawa and tried to save Nathan. They are here in the church today.
“You are loved,” Barbara Winters, the lawyer told Nathan as he died.
“You're a good man. You're a brave man.”
Stephen Harper's Address at Corporal Nathan Cirillo's Funeral
on Tuesday, October 28, 2014
We are gathered here today to give thanks for the life of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, struck down last week in the service of his country. His country...our country...our Canada.
Ever desiring peace, Canada has been built upon the noblest ideals, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. And, for as long as these ideals have been the foundation of our country, it has been our men and women in uniform who have been in the end, their ultimate guardians.
Sometimes, they have given their lives in that service. And last Wednesday, Corporal Nathan Cirillo became the latest to do so.
Corporal Cirillo was a member of one of Canada's greatest regiments ~ the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, Princess Louise's. In more than a century of service, with honours earned from Somme to Afghanistan, this regiment's record of courage under fire is as distinctive as their kilts and their Glengarries. To quote Captain Sam Chapman, who served with the regiment during the Second World War, “It is a history written in blood.”
Now, so very regrettably, Corporal Cirillo has added another page to that great narrative of 'faithfulness unto death'.
In a bitter and heart-wrenching irony, he did so as he guarded Canada's national place of solemn, sacred remembrance. Canadians come together at our National War Memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beside it, to honour those who have given their lives for their country.
As Canadians, we stand there humbled... humbled and grateful. These monuments remind us that
freedom is never free. It has been earned by the soldier
and then donated to all of us.
Most of us can never truly understand the significance of a soldier of the simple act of standing reverently on guard at that place. But those chosen for this sought-after assignment, this vigil at the National War Memorial and over the Unknown Soldier's grave, they understand.
Corporal Cirillo, who felt the calling of a soldier when he was just a 13-year-old cadet, he understood. He knew what he was protecting...and what he was preserving. He died protecting...and preserving it.
And I am satisfied to note that, only after a brief interruption, on Friday past, the honour guard at that sacred place officially resumed its duties.
For Canadians, the memory of Corporal Cirillo will now forever be linked to that place, just as the crowds that gathered there to honour the returning sentries, mirrored those along the “Highway of Heroes” later that same day, to bear witness to Corporal Cirillo's final journey home.
He has now joined the ranks of so many brave Canadians who have gone before him, having given all in the service of their country.
Our hearts are broken at his loss...
but our spirits are grateful for his memory.
Corporal Cirillo knew what all those men and women who died before him knew: The only values really worth living for...are those worth dying for. So may God bless Corporal Cirillo. We are better for his life...and are lessened by his loss.
And I know Canadians everywhere join me in praying for Corporal Cirillo's family: his mother, Katherine, his father Victor, his sisters Nicole and Natasha, their partners Richard and Jonathon, and his nephew Cameron...as they shoulder this terrible burden of grief. May time ease the searing pain of today. And may his son, young Marcus Daniel Cirillo, someday find comfort in the fact that...
our entire country looks up to his Dad,
with pride, with gratitude, with deep abiding respect.
As Canadians, we will persevere, taking strength from the legacy of service of Corporal Cirillo, and giving thanks all the more for the courage and dedication of all men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. God bless them all...and may God keep our land glorious and free!
Queen Elizabeth II, Monarch of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth
sent these words of comfort:
Thanks and Prayers to the family and friends
of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo ~ a true Canadian Hero!
Merle Baird-Kerr...written October 29, 2014
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