More than I’d expected: The Argyll Highlander’s connection

Grandpa Marr and Uncle Lorne

My Grandfather, E.W. Marr and his son, Lance Cprl. Lorne Andrew Marr

 

With all that transpired last week in Ottawa,Canada, little did I know it would result in a journey of my own.

Sometime early last week, my husband and I decided that our Wedding Anniversary weekend would be celebrated in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

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By Webster Falls, Ontario

 

My Father lived in the Hamilton area as a child, and we often went to nearby Waterdown to visit my Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. But I had never been there as a tourist. So, we booked a cute little B & B in the outskirts, and began to make plans.

 

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Uncle Lorne and his dog, Teddy

 

Just then, I heard the devastating news that an unarmed soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo had been shot and killed while guarding the memorial of the Unknown Soldier. The perpetrator had then broken into Parliament, fired his weapon several times in the Hall of Honour while the Prime Minister was in a nearby room. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was taken down by the Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers, a now celebrated hero. Many people felt that the heart of Canadian Democracy and her freedom had been attacked.

Our family lives in the border city of Niagara Falls, USA, where many folks, either side of the river have connections on both sides. I, still being a Canadian citizen, though having lived in America for many years with my American family, was very concerned and kept a keen eye out as the story evolved, especially since we were about to cross the border.

Much to my surprise, it turned out that Cirillo was a member of the very same Hamilton regiment that my deceased Uncle Lorne had been a part of, the Argyll Highlanders. Uncle Lorne gave his life in France, towards the end of World War II.

Pic of guard

Cprl. Nathan Cirillo, a couple of days before the shooting.- https://twitter.com/huffpostcanada/status/525033449132785664

 

I’d always wanted to see Uncle Lorne’s home Armoury and when this weekend presented itself, my husband gladly chauffeured me along the busy street, dropping me off at the site, turned shrine.

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The Armoury- The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada

 

Thousands of flowers, bouquets, candles, memorabilia and well wishes awaited. Veterans saluted, and a single ‘by gone’ soldier maneuvered his motorized wheel chair, one lone leg protruding from beneath his blanket. Both spontaneous and planned acts of good will merged on the street; one flag on a makeshift hockey stick pole, while a boy’s hockey team posed with another, this one dotted with children’s names. News media, ordinary citizens, Mothers Fathers, Sons and Daughters alike, stood in solidarity, some with heads bowed low.

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A sampling of the mementos

 

There was an acrid smell of gasoline from over much traffic, mixed with the excessive sweetness of flowers and pungent candle smoke all combining to hover over the now hallowed space. Soldiers stood on guard while people placed remembrances, reminders, and tokens of good will on the unyielding sidewalk. Photos of Cirillo’s dogs accumulated alongside newspaper headlines while cameras clicked and television news crews waited for their moment. This cacophony of visual aids, sounds, smells, intentions of the grieving heart, melded into a spontaneous declaration of defiance and respect.

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On the armoury gate

 

So, it was a small connection, but it was an important one for me. I don’t know exactly why it was so good for me to be right there, and then, at that very moment, but it was. I stood beside freedom loving people, honouring both Nathan Cirillo, other soldiers who’d sacrificed their lives and my own Uncle whom I had never met. God Bless them, every one.

Maybe it’s because I live on the border. Perhaps it’s because I’m the only Canadian in my family. It might even be because so many people on both sides of the border get irritated with one another over the small things; bad driving, too much shopping or irritating accents? But isn’t this, at least in part, what freedom is really made of? Celebrating the unique in an individual or culture? Blood, tears and honour? And just maybe I found a little bit more of mine that day.

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Boy’s hockey team showing their respects

 

*If you’d like a copy of the book Peter’s Argyll, written by my cousin George A. Wilkinson, about our Uncle, Lance Corporal Lorne Andrew Marr, KIA August 27th, 1944, you can find it at: http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0052119050/PETERS-ARGYLL.aspx

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8 thoughts on “More than I’d expected: The Argyll Highlander’s connection”

  1. well said, we often focus more on what irritates than what binds us all together – be it neighbours next door or nation next door. We are united in our reverence for and battles to defend – freedom. In that we are indebted to each other forever.

    1. Bill, I couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve heard more trivial complaints about one another than anyone should have to, in a lifetime! I remember, as a young woman, still living in Niagara Falls, Ontario, hearing two kids screaming insults across the gorge at two diminutive figures across the way, (more than likely American). They were exclaiming superiority…you know the drill! I walked over and gave them ‘what for’. I still feel the same way, regardless which side the insults are directed. I grew up in the Crystal Beach area and remember those pervasive attitudes even then. I love my American family, neighbors and adopted country! No place on this earth is perfect, but goodness, we need to stick together, and I will continue to be an ambassador of much needed goodwill and trumpet forth positive, encouraging and uplifting things about these wonderful, flawed and freedom loving countries. Like I said in the article “God Bless us Everyone”.

  2. What a beautiful tribute, Hamilton is where my dear cousin is, memories abound there from childhood weekends to present. Being a Canadian on this side of the border, while my siblings are American, I understand your connection. I think we were all Canadian Proud, this past week. It brings a reminder that our freedom was wrought by this young man as well as many others. May they all rest in peace as we honour them all this month.

    1. Cherie, I’m so glad this touched you. Our Hamilton weekends will be with us, always! We two nations are more interconnected than we think…me thinks! And yes, we are ‘Canadian Proud’ as you so aptly put it. Even Stephen Colbert had to eat humble pie this week (see his Youtube apology to Canada). This is one crazy world, and we, as freedom loving people, need to stick together and encourage, uplift and venerate one another. Thanks for sharing!

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