The Universal Ceremonial Soldier*

[*Moderator's Note: This post was written early on 11 November as Remembrance Day events were commencing.]

The duties performed by ceremonial guards tie the history of the nation to its modern day society. Rarely do such roles include the use of live ammunition. Ceremonial guards provide us with a reminder of the need for a military capability in the defence of our nation at time of peace. National capital cities around the world define themselves by their portrayal of ceremonial guards. Anyone who has spent time in London will appreciate how the ceremonial guards defines the character of the city, the nation and the Commonwealth past and present as well as providing a foundation for their futures.

The defenceless, targeted attack on Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the commonwealth landmark that is the National War Memorial in Ottawa on October 22nd 2014 has to be seen as demonstrating the vulnerability of all ceremonial guards around the world. It was also a domestic killing of an on-duty soldier under the guise of a military attack.

The military precision with which local police forces responded and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police took command under conditions when all scenarios must be considered shall be recognized around the world for its professionalism. The incident encapsulates the defining of defence of Canada with support for further integration between military and civilian police functions in the protection of Canada’s pluralistic societies.

The perpetrator of the crime on Corporal Nathan Cirillo was a Canadian born citizen whom we are told had become ‘radicalized’, as was the individual who attacked Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, forty-eight hours earlier and the person who attempted to blow-up the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day in 2013. These observations suggest that any redefining of the nation’s defence in an era of home grown terrorism has to be broadened to include community networks and mental health support structures.

Canada has a valuable resource in its new immigrants who recognize the benefit and security of life that Canada offers relative to the godforsaken places many of them have come from. Commenting on an earlier Broadside posting that addressed such matters, a retired Royal Canadian Navy Captain suggested “they (new Canadians) have come here to get away from the crazies at home, so they should see the issues well before we do. Like Counter Intelligence maybe we need Counter Radicalization!”

Tim Lynch is a Toronto based freelance journalist who writes about maritime security. His email address is