In his commentary for The National, Rex Murphy reflects on that day of horror that made Canada "tremble and weep," yet also showed us the best of human values in the bravery of Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers. The commentary was first broadcast on The National on October 30, 2014.
Lord knows we can always welcome a little goodwill, high example and decency in these times — and this week, oh how so much. It was both very sad, but at the same time, in a melancholy way, greatly heartening that Canadians gave some special time and some special attention to the funeral service of Corporal Nathan Cirillo just two days ago.
The city of Hamilton paid magnificent tribute to their home-town hero on Tuesday, with thousands filling the streets and crowding Christ's Church Cathedral to signal their respect, display their sympathy to his family and those he loved and who most deeply loved him.
Other thousands lined the Highway of Heroes as he was brought home. Every Canadian with a heart watched or listened, deploring the so sudden and brutal amputation of life and promise of this young and honourable man, cut off in the very blossom of his days while on duty at the Cenotaph.
It was, with all its attendant sadness, so good to see. We have been so glutted with the mangy exhibitionists of the celebrity universe and all its fatuous fame, that it is actually wonderful that a real person of decency and virtue, seeking to serve and mindless of self, is now enrolled in a place of honour and profound affection in the hearts of the nation.
Corporal Cirillo has almost instantly become an emblem of what is right and best. The country salutes his family, his friends and his regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.
More I think than anything else, everyone has been transfixed by his beautiful, sweet boy, holding the flag his father so honoured. You could search the murals of the Vatican and not find so touching an innocent face. This from Prime Minister's moving tribute was perfect, quote, "May his son, young Marcus Daniel Cirillo, some day find comfort in the fact that our entire country looks up to his dad with pride, with gratitude, with deep abiding respect," end of quote. Marcus Daniel Cirillo is a very jewel. And it was so right that the Prime Minister and other leaders—there is no "party" on this subject — came to say goodbye and thank you to the man that now personifies "true patriot love" and mark their respect to his family.
Corporal Cirillo was a patriot. People all over the country are singing the anthem these last few days, thoughts of him and his passing, the new music that binds them to its deepest words. And people will sing "O Canada" many days hence with the young corporal in mind. He has deepened its meaning for us and there is, in his young life and its brutal removal, all we need to know about why we have cherished that glorious anthem from the days of its first singing.
For "The National," I'm Rex Murphy.