"Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a proud soldier, father"
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a doting father, an animal lover and a proud soldier who dreamed of serving his country since he was barely a teenager. The Hamilton native was living that dream Wednesday morning when he was gunned down in the nation's capital while performing one of the highest honours bestowed upon only the finest Canadian soldiers -- standing guard with an empty rifle over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Parliament Hill. Now in Steeltown, across the country and around the world, the 24-year-old's name will forever be tied to the day Canada's innocence was stolen. "He was very proud to be a soldier," Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina said of Cirillo on Wednesday. Bratina was among the many who visited the armoury where the slain soldier's reservist unit is based to pay their respects in the wake of the deadly attack in the heart of the country. The mayor also visited Cirillo's grief-stricken family, accompanied by Hamilton Police Chief Greg de Caire, saying "there were lots of tears." "It's very sad," Bratina said, as the Canadian flag above the armoury flew at half-mast and flowers piled up at the locked gate to the armoury, which was guarded all day by soldiers. Cirillo's parents, two sisters, his five-year-old son Marcus and other family members were still in shock Wednesday, too distraught to talk about their loss. "His mom is now on her way to Ottawa," Bratina said. He said Cirillo became a cadet when he was just 13, then joined the Argylls of Canada - 91st Canadian Highlanders about five years ago. His most recent and final duty -- standing sentry at the National War Memorial in Ottawa -- began Monday. "Someone who is assigned to ceremonial guard at the cenotaph in Ottawa is a very highly trained, qualified individual," Bratina said. "To stand in ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, right next to the Parliament Buildings, is one of the highest accolades you can get." Although soldiers are armed with rifles while performing the ceremonial duty, the mayor noted out that the guards do not typically have ammunition in their weapons. And he, like the rest of Canada, was stunned by the shooting. "To hear one of our own was taken ... in a cowardly ambush, it's hard to put it into words," Bratina said.
Others who visited the armoury expressed similar feelings. "It tore my heart apart when I found out it was an (Argyll) because these are just kids that are just looking for the honour in life," said veteran Ed Hughes, who served in Canada's military in the 1980s. "And to end up being shot, so cowardly, while protecting the (Tomb of the) Unknown Soldier is a shame. "It's a sad day. Canada will never be the same." A Facebook memorial page -- with a link to a fundraiser -- honouring the reservist was launched just hours after his death. Photos on his @ncitaly Instagram account show Cirillo dressed in his camouflage combat uniform, cuddling a number of rescued dogs and spending time with his young son Marcus.
^ No matter what you think and say about a government or their military the truth is right here. Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a soldier who was murdered doing his duty. A soldier doesn't have to die in a foreign land to defend his country, but can be guarding a memorial that remembers those that did. ^