"God keep our land, glorious and free."
(O Canada lyrics)
My country is Canada and I am a very proud Canadian. There are many things I love and find pride in about Canada like the diverse landscapes, interesting and fascinating people, unique traditions and cultures and the incredible rights and freedoms we possess every day with our Canadian citizenship. I am blessed to call Canada my home and it is not something I take for granted or lightly. Today however was not a proud day for Canadians. It was instead a day of profound heartbreak for our nation that sadly will long be remembered. Today our nation mourned the tragic loss of Corporal Nathan Cirillo a young and passionate father, enthusiastic animal lover, blossoming musician and dedicated Canadian soldier. He was laid to rest in a formal ceremony in his hometown of Hamilton Ontario while a nation watched in quiet disbelief and sorrow. You see this young and promising Canadian soldier lost his life not in combat, but unbelievably at the hands of an armed assassin last Wednesday. As he proudly stood at his ceremonial post at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, I can imagine the day probably began like any other day for Corporal Cirillo. What unfortunately unfolded however has left not only his family, but the nation of Canada forever changed.
I like many Canadians was glued to the television in absolute shock and horror of it all. I wept at the images I saw of Parliament Hill which is characteristically known for its historical beauty with buildings of regal grandeur and formal elegance. Now stripped to the bone in a cloak of vulnerability, terror and bloodshed the victim of a misguided soul, the scene was so very different. Our Sergeant – at - Arms Mr. Kevin Vickers was instrumental in halting what could have been an even bigger tragedy by quickly shooting the gunman as he entered the parliament buildings. I was moved by the lengthy standing ovation he was given the next day as he carried the ceremonial mace into the House of Commons. Our nation is forever grateful to him for his swift actions and extreme bravery. Many heartbreaking and emotional images soon popped up all over the papers and on social media of Corporal Cirillo, his five year old son Marcus and his dogs who waited faithfully for a master who sadly was never to return. This is clearly a sad, sad tragedy that absolutely makes no sense.
We have been talking about Canada in my class in Social Studies. We have been studying all the aspects of our great country that we are privileged to enjoy. Understandably our discussion took a much more serious turn this week as even though the students are young, they were well aware of Corporal Cirillo’s passing and the circumstances that surrounded that. They had many questions for me yet the most common one that even I could not answer is why this terrible event happened in the first place?
Why bad things happen to good people is a question that countless people have wrestled with for many generations. It is a very difficult question to answer as many times in specific situations there really are no clear answers. The hope that we have is that we are a nation that will stand strong despite this terrible tragedy. Our national anthem states and implores God to “keep our land glorious and free.” These lyrics were not originally in our anthem. I recall as a young girl when the decision was made to change O Canada’s lyrics and insert “God keep our land.” It was an amazing day for Canada as we were literally inviting God to watch over our nation as is the opposite desire of many other countries nationwide. This is an open invitation that we continue as our country is in need of God more than ever. I have been very fortunate to have visited our nation’s capital several times with my family. We walked in the very halls that this past week became like a gruesome scene from a horror film. My brother in law was even selected from our tourist group to carry the mace into the House of Commons when it was open to the public. This was an honour we caught on camera that he did with extreme pride and great joy. I cannot help but wonder how things will change now for our nation’s capital and country as a whole?
Although there are many things that are uncertain, there is one thing I do know that a nation under God will stand strong. A nation that implores God to be the “keeper of their land” has a strong moral compass and clear priorities. We have to believe that we will come through this and rest in this assurance. It is what keeps us going and gives us a reason to carry on each day. We need to go forward in peaceful solidarity as imitators of Christ himself. As with America and their belief after such tragedies as 911, many found hope and healing in their motto “In God we trust.” It will take time but we have already seen Canadians coming together in various forms and circumstances. It is our sincere hope and prayer that something beautiful can eventually come from the ashes for our nation as we take the time to mourn, grieve and heal. O Canada! We stand on guard for thee. We stand together in this “glorious and free” nation we are so privileged to enjoy. One terrible day and senseless act of violence will not change that. With God’s help we will not allow it for Captain Cirillo's sake and the sake of our entire nation. R.I.P. Captain Nathan Cirillo. Your faithful service and courageous sacrifice for Canada will not be forgotten. You have our word.
With a glowing, yet broken heart,
Ephesian 5:1 ~ Imitate God, therefore in everything you do because you are His dear children.
Little Lesson Learned: When terrible tragedy strikes, with God as the “keeper of the land” He can bring about something beautiful in His time.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014