National War Memorials. I have visited many of these in my lifetime.
My first one of these hallowed spots was in Arlington, VA at The Tomb of the Unknowns, or popularly referred to as The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the Arlington National Cemetery.
I was a young boy of about 7 years old. We were on a field trip with my school, so a few of the teachers really had to explain to us how important it was to be silent at the Unknowns Memorial. At that age, I didn't really comprehend death or war.
My father was a Sergeant in the Canadian Armed Forces. At the time, we were stationed at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Before this, I grew up on Canadian Forces Bases Uplands, in Ottawa and Petawawa. I saw soldiers everyday so jeeps, and camouflage fatigues were the norm to me. Yet, I was unprepared for the sombre mood war creates at the Tomb on that chilly Fall day.
It affected me in a way which still carries that respect inside of me. Not only for the appreciation I have for my freedom, for being a Canadian, but for the knowledge of the cost of that freedom. I've carried that feeling into my travels. I've visited Westminster Abbey in London, England for the UK's Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. I've stood under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France face to face with their dedication to their Unknown War Dead. I've been to Juno Beach on the Normandy Coast, and to the Canadian Cemetery in Beny Sur le Mer, Brussels, Belgium, and obviously to my native Canadian War Memorial as seen in the picture above.
The Honour Guards who serve to protect these memorials live a relatively thankless job. They guard these monuments from harm from those who might attack a national symbol of peace and reflection to the human race from those who might wish to harm, in the hopes of raising attention and awareness for their own unheard cause.
Cpl. Nathan Cirello was the casualty of that yesterday in Ottawa, Canada.
God Speed to you Nathan Cirillo, to where you are...