HAMILTON – The sister of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo thinks of the past year as a “snow globe” turned upside down as her family struggles with grief following the soldier’s shocking death in Ottawa a year ago.
“When Nathan passed away, our family’s snow globe was shaken and turned upside down, and now everything is falling in a new place,” Nicole Cirillo said, flanked by her mother Kathy and other family members, during a memorial service in his hometown Wednesday night at Bayfront Park.
“When Nathan was alive, it was filled with joy, love and laughter.”
Cirillo was murdered by a gunman while on guard at the National War Memorial on Oct. 22, 2014. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, went on to storm the Centre Block building on Parliament Hill. He was shot and killed by security personnel.
“It was cowardly, it was evil and most of all, it was tragic,” Nicole Cirillo said during her address.
“Nathan was a proud soldier, and a kid at heart. He loved being the centre of attention and loved animals, he loved challenges and change,” Nicole Cirillo said.
“But most of all, Nathan loved… He loved his family and friends, and anyone that knew him knows how much love was behind that perfect smile.”
‘United as a regiment’
The service was hosted by Cirillo’s former regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.
“We gather to remember, ironically, because he lost his life at the very place where Canadians, particularly those of us who serve in the military, also gather to remember … our fallen,” regimental padre Robert Fead said.
Fead spoke about Cirillo’s love for his family, including his young son Marcus, and his dogs.
He added that the Argylls and the Cirillo family have supported each other over the past year.
“We have become a part of their family, and I can honestly say they have become a part of the Argyll family.”
One of the most poignant moments came during a moment of silence when a large, white beam of light filled the sky to remember Cirillo.
Captain Mike Wonnacott, an operations officer with the regiment, said they wanted to say thank you to the thousands of people who showed their support.
“We wanted to make this happen because it was very important for the regiment after the amount of support we got last year,” Wonnacott said, adding they wanted to “say a symbolic goodbye to Nathan after hitting the one year anniversary.”