A group of veterans participated in a symbolic event at the Wallaceburg Cenotaph recently, in honour of the late Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
Rob Simpson, president of the Wallaceburg Veterans and Families Support Group, said some local veterans took part in a nation-wide event on Oct. 24 to symbolically complete Cirillo’s shift.
“Of course last October we had Cpl. Cirillo gunned down while he guarded the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” Simpson said. “Then of course Parliament was attacked in a lone wolf terrorist attack.”
Simpson said after Cpl. Cirillo was killed, the Veteran’s of Canada mounted a guard, symbolic of his shift.
“So this year the Wallaceburg Veterans and Families Support Group decided since he was scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. we would mount a guard from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. to finish it. We laid a white rose for each one. Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent (who was run down while in his uniform a couple of days before Cirillo’s death) and then we mounted our guard.”
Simpson said their group received a nice response from the community on the day of the event.
“There were some people that came by,” he said. “One lady stopped her car, got out with her kids. Her father was a veteran and asked why we were doing it. I explained it and she went around to every one of us, shook our hands and thanked us, which was really special.”
Simpson said last year’s tragic event was an emotional one for all veterans.
“The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the most sacred, holy place to a veteran,” he said.
“It symbolizes the sacrifice by many soldiers to make this country free. It’s such mixed emotions. You are sad that these people were killed. In the case of Cpl. Cirillo, his children will never get to know their dad like they could have had he lived. But you are proud as a veteran because you stood up for this young man and for Warrant Officer Vincent and you said ‘you shall not be forgotten, we will remember you’.”
Simpson added: “For the guys it was something else. One of our guys is a Vietnam vet and despite a really bad leg from when he was wounded in Vietnam, we had a chair for him and he stood with us. That was something that just shows the concept of duty and honour in the veteran community. That’s what its all about.”
Simpson said he plans on making this an annual event in Wallaceburg.
– Photo credit: Deb Houle Simpson