'Every day we should be remembering': Cirillo, Vincent honoured in hometowns
Published Tuesday, November 11, 2014 10:53AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 11, 2014 7:50PM EST
As Canadians paused to mark Remembrance Day on Tuesday afternoon, the memories of two soldiers killed on home soil last month weighed heavy over their home communities.
In Hamilton, Ont., slain reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was top-of-mind for many gathered at the city’s Remembrance Day service. Cirillo was shot and killed while standing guard at Ottawa’s National War Memorial in Ottawa on Oct. 22.
And in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., the community paid silent tribute to Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was killed there in a hit-and-run attack on Oct. 20.
Cirillo and Vincent have been prominent figures this Remembrance Day, with many paying tribute to the soldiers’ sacrifices.
Cirillo’s name was not mentioned during the official Remembrance Day ceremony in Hamilton, but those in attendance spoke often of him.
Lt.-Col. Rick Bialachowski, a veteran of the Afghan War, said Cirillo’s death helps Hamiltonians put a name and a face to Remembrance Day.
“I know when I was growing up and I attended Remembrance Day ceremonies I was here for my father, but I don’t think I truly understood what Remembrance Day was about,” he said. “I think that now, a lot of people can attach a name to what Remembrance Day is about.”
Victor Dukeshire, a 92-year-old veteran of the Second World War, said he still can’t believe Cirillo was killed on home soil.
“We’re at peacetime now and this is for an honorary thing,” he told CTV News. “It should never have happened.”
One woman at the Hamilton service said Cirillo’s death hit shockingly close to home. “It did move me to tears because I have a son, and I couldn’t help but realize that that could have been my son,” she said.
Cirillo’s reservist regiment, the Hamilton-based Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, participated in the city’s Remembrance Day ceremony.
Cirillo’s family remained in seclusion and did not attend the ceremony on Tuesday, but one of his cousins did speak to CTV News at a memorial service in Windsor, Ont.
Jennifer Holland says she spent the last two weeks staying with her aunt (Cirillo’s mother) in Hamilton, and witnessed first-hand the support Canadians have offered her family.
“I saw everything that everybody was doing,” Holland told CTV Windsor. “All the cards they were bringing, all the flowers. It was nice.”
More than 1,000 soldiers and residents were on hand at the garrison in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu on Tuesday for a Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph. Mayor Michel Fecteau called the service a special event in light of Vincent’s death, and added that the city will work with the Vincent family to find a proper way to honour him.
“We don’t want to live in the past. We want to learn from what happened, but we have to look to the future,” Fecteau said.
“But it’s something we will always remember.”
Large crowds were in hand in Ottawa for the Remembrance Day service in front of the National War Memorial where Cirillo was shot.
Many in the crowd said the deaths of Cirillo and Vincent were reminders of what Remembrance Day means.
“One day a year, this is where we issue our respects. But it’s so much more than that,” said 16-year-old Mary Hayes. “Every day we should be remembering these people.”
Hayes said she travelled to the Ottawa ceremony with her father so she could personally thank Canada’s veterans for their service to the country.
“I can’t even tell them how thankful I am for them serving, just so I can wake up in the morning and do my regular routine,” she told CTV’s Katie Simpson.
Brian Tracey said he brought his daughters, 10 and 12, to the service so they could learn about the sacrifices Canada’s military personnel have made over the years.
And for Tracey, it was also an opportunity to pay tribute to the more recent death of Cpl. Cirillo.
“I was here when the shootings took place,” Tracey said. “It was just… It was an awful feeling.”
The day before Remembrance Day, the Canadian Forces announced that forward operating bases in Iraq and Kuwait would be named after Cirillo and Vincent.
Other tributes to the two fallen soldiers appeared on social media Tuesday.
Calgary Field of Crosses Champ des Croix commemorating Albertan fallen heroes includes NathanCerillo PatriceVincent pic.twitter.com/RT7JIDpoB2
— Wayne Cao (@ChairmanCao) November 11, 2014
This year, in particular, we should remember Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent. "We stand on guard for thee."— Fred Tonelli (@IcemanFred93) November 11, 2014
Let's honour the soldiers who risked their lives to protect this country. Thank you Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Officer Patrice Vincent.— Tyler Bozak (@CanadianHKY) November 11, 2014
This video of Cpl. Cirillo marching to his post on Sun., Oct. 19, just days before he died, was shared on social media Tuesday morning: