I have been fortunate to visit Ottawa several times in the last few years. I love Ottawa because despite being the Nations capitol, it has a friendly small town feel yet the awe of the embassies and the beautiful, incomparable Parliament Hill. I have never been very political but fell in love with our national Parliament buildings and the huge history in those buildings. Marble hallways, glimpses of our MP’s and even the leader of the opposition on one tour, watching the ” house” from the gallery and the awe of the Parliamentary Library. If you haven’t visited Ottawa and the Parliament Buildings – put it on your bucket list.
Security going in is like a low key airport, and people can wander here and there although all are encouraged to take a tour. This is Canada, after all, innocent, safe, and simple.
Until last week.
Whatever the reasons -mental health issues, or a terrorist motives, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, invaded our innocence, killed our soldier and made a ceremonial policeman into a hero. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a symbol of all those younger and older men who went to war for our Country’s peace is part of the beauty and history of our Parliament Hill. It is not a symbol of war as much as a symbol of peace. And our soldiers guarding the tomb are young men and women ready to fight for our country when needed, but not in that role at the time. This is an ultimate insult.
Then for this angry man with a gun invade those special halls, near to our government decision makers -this is just not what we expect or can tolerate in our country. A hero fallen – Cpl. Nathan Cirillo died a senseless death from a terrifying act. A hero arose- Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers who knew what to do and performed above and beyond bravery. And was back the next day as his ‘ ceremonial” self.
My fear is that our peaceful country will start feeling threatened and our Parliamentary House of Commons will lose its accessibility to the common Canadian and many foreign visitors. My fear is our loss of innocence will be a significant change rather than just an evaluation of security measures and enhancing those that need enhancing.
The two dead men, the age of my children and younger, will be mourned by their parents and friends – both deaths senseless and tragic.
I hope we can learn from this tragedy, mourn with the families, and still keep the wide open beauty of our Nation’s Capitol.
Canada, learn from this, but still be The Land of the Brave and the Home of the Free.
Note: A portion of all sales of Bruce MacKinnon’s cartoon about the shooting in Ottawa will be donated to the family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. If you would like to order a reprint, please visit herald.ca/cirillo or call our customer care line at 1-800-565-3339 ext 0.