Hamilton, Ontario: Prime Minister Stephen Harper, joined by his wife Laureen and General Thomas Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, paid his respects to Corporal Nathan Cirillo during the regimental funeral at Christ’s Church Cathedral on Tuesday.
Cirillo, 24, an Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada reservist based in Hamilton, was shot by Michael Joseph Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, on October 29 at Ottawa’s National War Memorial. Cirillo then ran into Parliament Hill’s Centre Block where he fired numerous shots before being killed by Parliament’s Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers and other security personnel.
Harper, in his address, said: “In more than a century of service with honours earned from the Somme to Afghanistan, this regiment’s record of courage under fire is as distinctive as their kilt and their glengarries.
“To quote Captain Sam Chapman, who served with the regiment during the Second World War, ‘it is a history written in blood.’
“Now sadly, Corporal Cirillo has added another page to that great narrative of devotion unto death. In a bitter and truly heart-wrenching irony, he did so as he guarded Canada’s national place of solemn, sacred remembrance.
“Canadians come together at our National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beside it, to honour those who have given their lives for their country. As Canadians we stand there humbled; humbled and grateful.
“These monuments remind us that freedom is never free. It has been earned by the soldier and then donated to all of us.
“Most of us can never truly understand the significance to a soldier of the simple act of standing reverently on guard at that place. But those chosen for this sought-after assignment, this vigil at the National War Memorial and over the Unknown Soldier’s grave, they understand.
“Corporal Cirillo, who felt the calling of a soldier when he was just a 13-year-old cadet, he understood. He knew what he was protecting and what he was preserving. He died protecting and preserving it.”
Harper added: “And I know Canadians everywhere join me in praying for Corporal Cirillo’s family.
“His mother Katherine, his father Victor, his sisters Nicole and Natasha, their partners Richard and Jonathan, his nephew Cameron, as they shoulder this terrible burden of grief.
“May time ease the searing pain of today.
“And may his son, young Marcus Daniel Cirillo, someday find comfort in the fact that our entire country looks up to his dad with pride, with gratitude, with deep abiding respect.”