This week has been a sad week for people living in Canada. Some of us were held in lockdown for our own safety as a gunman raided the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. Before his death, the attacker killed a young soldier who was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the War Memorial.
Since Wednesday, like many other Canadians, I have not stopped thinking about the Late Corporal Nathan Cirillo who we lost to the senseless attacks of October 22nd, 2014. The soldier was only 24 years old and was in his line of duty when he was fatally shot. I am heartbroken and so, with hope that expressing how I really feel about Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s death, will help me heal faster, I have decided to write my tribute to a hero.
The Silent Salute
When I heard that the soldier who was shot had died, I felt sad. Further details had not emerged about who this soldier was but it was saddening that a man peacefully undertaking his task would be shot by someone who had decided to wake up early in the morning to ensue violence. Finally, the soldier was identified as Corporal Nathan Cirillo.
I must admit that when your picture had emerged, I transitioned to being heartbroken. You were very handsome, looked so full of life and maybe even more painful was the fact that you were just 24. I was reminded of how the men and women in uniform put their lives on the line to protect their fellow country people. I wished that I could participate in a ceremony where I will be rendering salutes and march pasts to you alongside your fellow soldiers, but I do not qualify to do that. So, I have chosen to honour you in my own way, in my quiet time, and to the best of my ability by putting in writing my own salute, I call it my Silent Salute.
It is unquestionably a hard time for your family. A mother has lost her son, a young child has become fatherless, friends have lost their friend and colleagues have lost their colleague. Your fellow Canadians are heartbroken and other countries mourn with us.
Corporal, your name has been the headline of news networks in Canada; Facebook and Twitter have gone off with tributes; Canadian flags are flying in half-mast in your honour here in Canada and in some other countries; your name is flying from country to country. People across the world are learning of the hero, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. Yesterday, you were taken back to your hometown of Hamilton, Ontario via the Highway of Heroes. I read that as your journey back home to Hamilton from Ottawa begun, people applauded you. You deserved it. Also, Hamiltonians waited to receive you. Fellow soldiers saluted you at your arrival.
You see, you are adored. We realize that even in our shock and in our heartbreak, we must honour you, the man who sacrificed for some of us on that fateful Wednesday. You were at the forefront for all Canadians.
My hope is that in the coming days, your family members and all who are mourning your death (including myself) will remember your bon vivant smile, your service, and be easily consoled. I hope that we will continue to honour your memory and appreciate our men and women in uniform. I can imagine that when your son is older, he will continually be reminded that his father was a hero.
Corporal Cirillo, I wish you a happy stay in your new community. I hope that now you have your own Defender and you are in a place where you will hurt no more. Amen.