The Way I See It: Honouring the heroes

Michele Blais reflects on the tragic deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo

Lest we forget. That men and women have given their lives for their country so that we can enjoy the freedoms and democracy that we do today.

Lest we forget.

That men and women continue to make this sacrifice for our country. Not only within death do they do that,  it is in their daily service to our country.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a young father, a son, a friend, a soldier died while guarding the unknown soldier’s monument. The following is a quote from Rex Murphy, “To kill a soldier standing unarmed ceremonial guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a bottomless cowardice and a perversion.

“If the soul of Canada has an abiding place it is here in the great hallowed War Memorial with the tomb in our capital city, a bugle call away from the chambers of our national deliberations. The murder of a fine, fit, friendly and unarmed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was not a thoughtless act, instead it was soaked in callousness and contempt. The slaughter was meant to burn beyond the deed itself, to speak fundamental insult to the very ideas of honour, sacrifice and solidarity which are our military’s credo and our country’s ideals.

“The killer was a hateful brute, let us not name him, but today was not the damn killer’s. It produced a master counter example, the Sergeant-at-Arms Mr. Kevin Vickers. Mr. Vickers, the whole country is unanimous on all the matters that count — bravery, duty, selflessness, you are as good as they get. The office of Sergeant-at-Arms can never have been better filled. So as we mourn the soldier Cpl. Cirillo, let us honour the Sergeant Mr. Vickers; they encompass between them so much of what we Canadians choose to admire and love.”

In Quebec a soldier was killed in the parking lot of a recruitment centre, another act of cowardice. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.  These young men in the military accepted the risks they may face but I am sure did not expect to die in their home country, Canada, guarding a monument or innocently in a parking lot outside an office.

I watched Mr. Vickers in the house of commons receiving a standing ovation from the members of parliament; he didn’t blink, he didn’t change his facial expression, stoic, on guard ready to serve.

Our leaders are saying that we will not give over our freedoms for fear and this is so important for our leadership and for us as citizens. We are Canadians — proud, strong and free and we are a diverse group who have together built this country.  Our soldiers did not die so that our enemies infiltrate our decisions through our fearful thoughts and actions.

This is a sad time for our country, and worse for the families of the soldiers who died.  They have to live with the loss and sacrifice on a daily basis. Lest we forget.

As in any situation where we are confronted it is important not to give our national or personal power away.

It takes thousands of people to provide service to us in many forms so that we may enjoy this privileged life and freedoms. Service in many forms such as police, security, fire and emergency services, health care providers, educators, social workers, mental health and substance use workers, child care providers, government workers for our licences, taxes and customs officers.

Thank you to all the men and women who provide these services.  Thank you for the role you carry out in making our neighborhoods, our communities, province and country a great place to live.

Let us not forget.  Ever.

Michele Blais is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, writing on a variety of issues and appearing every other Sunday. She has worked with families and children in the North Okanagan for the past 28 years.