Canada Gives Slain Soldier Hero’s Send-Off

Motorcade with Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's body traveled along Canada's "Highway of Heroes"

By Justin Franz

OTTAWA, Ontario -€” The soldier shot dead by a gunman who then stormed Canada’s seat of government was given a hero’s send-off Friday, with a motorcade along the highway where the country honors its war dead.

Bagpipes rang out from the crowd of around 1,000 people as two new ceremonial guards were reinstated to the post at Canada’s national war memorial for the first time since Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, was gunned down earlier this week.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper watched as the soldiers took their spot before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Spontaneous applause erupted from on-lookers as members of Cirillo’s regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, marched in procession before the motorcade left Ottawa headed toward Cirillo’s hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, 320 miles (520 kilometers) to the west.

The Highway of Heroes, which has frequently seen the repatriation of soldiers killed in Afghanistan, is the stretch of Ontario’s Highway 401 between Canadian Forces Base Trenton and Toronto.

As many as 500 people jammed one overpass, breaking into a rendition of the national anthem as the procession went by. Two hydro trucks used their buckets to form a heart with a Canadian flag in the middle.

Those waiting along the highway included Gwen Barron.

“I’ve been here really every time a soldier’s come home and this one’s important,” she said.

Cirillo, the father of a young son and described as a happy-go-lucky, always smiling man who loved dogs, the outdoors and fitness, will receive a regimental funeral on Tuesday.

“The Canadian Armed Forces remain undeterred in paying tribute to this nation’s fallen, including Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent, and continue, resolutely, to show dignity and respect for all that the National War Monument symbolizes,” said Rob Nicholson, the Minister of National Defense, referring to warrant officer killed in another suspected terrorist attack earlier in the week.

Cirillo’s killer, 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was shot dead by the sergeant-at-arms after he ran into the Parliament building.