A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Let there be peace on earth

Exactly one year ago I posted this photo on Instagram and Facebook. It shows the spot where I put my "Dove of Peace" charm that I purchased on Remembrance Day, after a terrorist attack here in Canada.


This was my post on social media a few weeks prior, on October 22, 2014:

"I will be holding my kids extra tight tonight. I live in Canada's capital city and the city is on lockdown after gunfire downtown and an attack on our Parliament; my husband is on lockdown at work and my kids are on lockdown at school. I am trying to take some comfort from our pussy cat Bubbles as I'm anxiously waiting for my family to come home and I can hold them in my arms."


At the time of my post, very little was known about the situation, and I didn't really know what was happening with our kids at school, except that they were in lockdown. As it turns out, it was a lone gunman who shot and killed a soldier guarding our National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The victim was Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who served with the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, and, like all ceremonial sentries, only carried an unloaded firearm.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo on the left guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
(photo from CBC footage)

After the fatal shooting at the Cenotaph, the assailant drove the short distance to our Parliament Hill. He managed to enter the Parliament Buildings and was eventually killed in a barrage of gunfire from security and RCMP (our national police service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police). The city remained in lockdown for many hours until city police and RCMP officers decided their search for a rumoured second shooter was futile.

There has been much discussion in the last year about whether this was in fact a terrorist act or simply the act of a confused man with a criminal record, including drug-related charges, and a history of mental illness, who was living in a shelter and frustrated with his difficulty in obtaining a passport to go to the Middle East. The assailant was born in Canada but had family from Libya.

Screen shot from the video made by the shooter in Ottawa
Last month the RCMP released a video made before the shooting. A transcript reads, "This is in retaliation for Afghanistan and because [then Canadian Prime Minister] Harper wants to send troops to Iraq. Canada's officially become one of our enemies by fighting and bombing us and creating a lot of terror and killing us and killing our innocents. So, just aiming to hit some soldiers just to show that you're not even safe on your own land, and you gotta be careful. We'll not cease until you guys decide to be a peaceful country and stay to your own and stop going to other countries and stop occupying and killing the righteous of us who are trying to bring back religious law in our countries. Thank you."

On November 11, a few short weeks after last year's shooting, we attended the Remebrance Day ceremony at our children's middle school; our daughter was in the school choir. I wore my Flower Power bracelet, my pink and red mother-daughter bracelet with two red poppies, a symbol for remembrance. Although we have attended many Remembrance Day assemblies at schools over the years, last year's ceremony was particularly emotional because of those very recent events. When I read these words in the program, "If we are to maintain our peace and freedom, we must always remember," and saw this picture of a dove with an olive branch, I decided to buy the "Dove of Peace" dangle, as a reminder. 


Taylor's vocal class singing Amazing Grace November 11, 2015

Our children are in high school now, and last week we attended a Remembrance Day ceremony at our daughter's high school, because her vocal class was performing. It was a very moving service, alternating between her class singing and students reading letters sent home to families and sweethearts in Canada. They were from soldiers in the Boer War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and most recently those serving in Afghanistan, as well as Canadian troops involved in peace-keeping missions around the world. The "Dove of Peace" represents my hope for peace in this crazy world. That seems appropriate given the latest events around the world, including Paris and Beirut.
 
The dove of peace on my Love Blooms Here bracelet
YouTube video of "Let there be peace on earth"
 

The back of the Canadian Parliament Buildings

 

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