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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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