Fallen soldiers honoured in Maple Ridge park

Cities pay respects to Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo

Mike Ward

Mike Ward

The cold rain pelted down on the small gathering, making clear puddles on the concrete at the war cenotaph in Memorial Peace Park.

The Tuesday morning ceremony was brief. A few words, a plaintiff O Canada, sung in muffled tones under an honour guard of umbrellas and a pledge not to forget, preceded the laying of a green wreath at the bottom of the cenotaph.

In the centre of it were black-and-white photos of Canadian soldiers Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo, both killed last week in terrorist attacks.

“Lest we forget,” the wreath said.

David Isaac and his dad George Isaac were there to show support for the two fallen soldiers. Both of David Isaac’s grandfathers served in the Second World War.

“It’s solidarity for people who’ve lost their lives because they did what they believed in,” he said.

“Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, they were doing their jobs. I feel it’s only right that people show up to support them.”

Whether you agree with the government’s policies or not, he said, “They were still our soldiers and they still deserve our respect and our remembrance.”

Vincent was run down and killed by a car south of Montreal, while Cirillo, a member of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed Thursday while on honour guard duty at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

Moments after Cirillo was shot, House of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers killed gunman Michael Zehaf Bibeau in the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings.

The nature of the attack has affected many people.

“This wasn’t war. This was a cowardly attack,” David said.

Cirillo wasn’t in Iraq or Syria, he said.

“Being there as part of an honour guard, you’d think that would make you safe. By being killed in such a cowardly fashion, it strikes at the very core of what we are.”

George Isaac said it’s up to the government to write the proper legislation to protect against such attacks.

“We have a democratic government and different parties. They have a responsibility to keep the government’s feet on the ground.”

The government and the military have to protect the country, he added, yet do so without losing our values.

David Isaac said the Ottawa attack was both a terrorist incident and one from a disturbed individual using an ideology as an excuse.

“He found something that fit his world view and allowed him to say, ‘Oh, I may be crazy, but this will give me the impetus to do something.

“He wanted to make a statement. He made his statement and, sadly, he took out a nice young man in the process, and that’s sad.”

Royal Canadian Legion Maple Ridge Branch No. 88 president Mike Ward said the Maple Ridge ceremony was timed to take place an hour after the funeral for Cirillo in Hamilton, Ont.

The legion wanted the mayor to lay the wreath on behalf of all the citizens of Maple Ridge.

A similar ceremony took place at the cenotaph in Pitt Meadows.

“It’s just such an unusual tragedy in Canada. For the military to be attacked at the honour guard … this type of thing doesn’t happen in our country, at least we don’t think it does,” added Legion past president Jim MacDonald.

Wayne Thomas, also a legion member, remembered when the federal government imposed the War Measures Act, which suspended civil liberties after the Front de Liberation du Quebec kidnappings in October 1970.

His grandfather was a victim of a poison gas attack in the First World War, while his father was in the Second World War.

Thomas just wanted to pay his respects.

The small gathering in Maple Ridge dissolved quickly.

The sky lightened a bit, but the rain kept falling on the wreath and the photos at the foot of the cenotaph.