Yesterday was Remembrance Day in Canada and among the eight services across Hamilton, I chose to attend the ceremony in downtown Dundas. If you did not already feel proud to live in this small community, yesterday’s huge attendance would have made you so.
To get the whole crowd I would have needed another 2 or 3 pictures to the right and to the left. All ages were there from tiny babies, daycare groups, school classes to retirees. It was such a stereotypical Canadian crowd too – whenever people moved through the group you could hear ‘sorry’, ‘oops sorry’ repeatedly.
I was surprised at the large number of wreaths laid. The names of each donor were read out and applause followed every name. Perhaps because the list was long, some of the younger attendees grew a bit restless. This young lad below entertained himself by running through the flag, over and over again. I loved that the flag was held with hockey sticks by an older child at each end. And at one point it appeared the little boy thought all the applause was for him because he began clapping briefly each time he circled around the hockey stick and came out from under the flag again.
The ceremony was very touching and included everyone singing O Canada, Amazing Grace and God Save the Queen with the live band. Once the presentations and speeches were finished, the parade that began it all turned about and led the way back to the local legion.
People lingered for quite awhile afterward, taking closer looks at the wreaths, snapping photos of the young cadets on duty and chatting with friends and family.
During the ceremony, the names of recently slain Canadian soldiers Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent were mentioned. A native Hamiltonian, Cirillo in particular has been the topic of many local conversations in social media and his death in Ottawa received extensive media coverage. Citizens from near and far showed tremendous support to his family and unit when he was brought home from Ottawa and also on the day of his funeral.
Just three days later, supporters were stunned when the Hamilton Spectator ran an opinion piece by Andrew Dreschel declaring that Cirillo was not a real hero. Of all the responses I saw to this article, another opinion piece by Peter Ratcliffe put it best that the Spectator was being insensitive. Ratcliffe wrote with the wisdom of someone who understands the Cirillo family’s heart ache as he also lost a son and experienced a similar outpouring of support and media coverage.