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Cpl. Nathan Cirillo honoured at Hamilton Remembrance Day event

For the third time in just a few weeks, Hamiltonians lined a parade route to honour members of Canada's military, including the city's most recent hometown loss.

City prepares for emotional Remembrance Day after local reservist killed in Ottawa shooting

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      For the third time in just a few weeks, Hamiltonians lined a parade route to honour members of Canada's military, including the city's most recent hometown loss. 

      On Sunday, Hamilton veterans, active service members, military bands and the public gathered for the city's 96th annual Remembrance Day parade, followed by a ceremony and a moment of silence outside Liuna Station, formerly the CN Railway James Street Station. 

      The parade came less than two weeks after city residents gathered en masse to mourn the death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who was shot and killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial on Parliament Hill last month.

      The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 58 lent its temporary cenotaph for Sunday's occasion as the city's typical Gore Park ceremony location is under renovation.

      The recent deaths of Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent received special mention and prayers as part of the proceedings Sunday. 

      'It hit so close to home'

      As part of his remarks, Rev. Francis Chisholm shared a story about coming upon a group of motorcyclists attending Cirillo's funeral.

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          "I noticed an embroidered patch on the biker's leather jacket," Chisholm said. "It read: 'I wasn't there, but I still care.'"

          Most Canadians weren't at important historical military events in Dieppe, Normandy, Korea, Afghanistan, or in Ottawa the day Cirillo died, Chisholm said.

          But the refrain should still hold: "We weren't there, but we still care," he said.

          For Doris Muir, a resident of Hamilton's east end, Cirillo's death serves an important purpose: bringing the weight of military service and sacrifice to mind for Hamiltonians. 

          "We need something to bring it back, to remember," Muir said. "It hit so close to home."

          Muir, 75, served in the reserves with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry from 1960 to 1963. Her husband, Dan Muir, served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1963 to 1966, and is now the president of the Hamilton Navy Veterans. The couple brought an anchor-shaped wreath to lay in Sunday's ceremony. 

          Plaque to be dedicated Tuesday

          Several government officials marched in the parade and laid wreaths at the cenotaph, including Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina, MPs David Christopherson and David Sweet, and MPPs Ted McMeekin and Andrea Horvath.

          Family members of Pte. Mark Anthony Graham, who was killed during operations in Afghanistan, laid a wreath at the cenotaph.

          Many associations of military veterans and uniformed officers also laid wreaths. The Hamilton Children's Choir performed a medley that included the peace anthem "Dona Nobis Pacem." 

          Services and parades were scheduled in a few corners of the city on Sunday. More events, including a dedication of a WWI plaque at Hamilton City Hall, are planned for Tuesday.

          An organization called Friends of Veterans Canada is also organizing a rally along the Highway of Heroes from Trenton to Hamilton. Organizers expect Canada flag-bedecked classic cars, family vehicles and even a few hardy motorcyclists to assemble in a procession from Trenton to Hamilton, arriving around 3:30 p.m.

          More information about those can be found here.  

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