Workers from St. Eugene Catholic School in Hamilton, Ontario, where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's son is enrolled, pay respects at a makeshift memorial in honor of Cpl. Cirillo, outside the family home in Hamilton Oct. 24. Cirillo was killed during an Oct. 22 s hooting incident at the Canada War Memorial in Ottawa. CNS photo/Mark Blinch, Reuters

A nation mourns a fallen son

  • October 29, 2014

His nation wept, his city bowed and knelt in prayer and his family bore a greater pain than human hearts were made to endure as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was sent to his final rest from Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Hamilton, Ont., Oct. 28.

“Now he is Canada’s son. He gave his life at the most sacred and hallowed ground in this country,” Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders chaplain Major Rev. Canon Rob Fead told a tearful congregation that included Prime Minister Stephen Harper and both opposition leaders, Thomas Muclair and Justin Trudeau.

Queen Elizabeth II, colonel-in-chief of the regiment, sent her “deepest sympathy to all those affected by this tragedy, in particular to members of Cpl. Cirillo’s own family.”

Hamilton’s Catholic community was represented at the funeral by Bishop Douglas Crosby, who read Psalm 23. Along with the other clergy present, Crosby wore the poppy of remembrance on his vestments.

Cirillo’s wife Cathy and mother Katherine both wept and fought their tears, and comforted Nathan and Cathy’s five-year-old son Marcus.

“Our hearts are broken at this loss, but our spirits are grateful for his memory,” said Harper from the ambo of the modest and beautiful cathedral bathed in the light of stained glass windows. “Freedom always has a price. Freedom is never free. It has been earned by the soldier and then donated to all of us… We are better for his life and we are diminished by his loss.”

Argyll commanding officer Lawrence Hatfield spoke of the honour his company has to guard the national war memorial and tomb of the unknown soldier in Ottawa, where Cirillo was killed Oct. 22. by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a mentally unstable, homeless drug addict claiming to be fighting for Islam. He was shot dead by Parliament’s sergeant at arms after he rushed into the Parliament buildings with his rifle.

“A soldier has fallen. An Argyll has fallen,” said Hatfield. “We have been lifted by the overwhelming support of this country, of this city. He was a brother in arms.”

Preaching the good news of the Resurrection and the eternal value of every life, Fead addressed Cirillo’s coffin to say he had not died in vain.

“Because of you, Canada is a place of peace for every man, for every woman, regardless of race, creed or way of life,” said Fead. “Well done good and faithful soldier, well done.”

Eight strong men in dress uniform carried Cirillo’s heavy coffin from the cathedral. Crowds waited on the street to see the funeral cortege and the flag-draped coffin. He was buried before his family and friends in a nearby cemetery. 

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