POLITICS

Transcript of remarks from cousin, Harper at funeral for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo

10/28/2014 04:12 EDT | Updated 12/28/2014 05:59 EST
HAMILTON - A full regimental funeral was held Tuesday for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the 24-year-old soldier shot to death at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Cirillo’s cousin Jenny Holland were among those who spoke at the service. Here is a transcript of their remarks:

Jenny Holland:

Nathan has become Canada's hero.

To our family, he is a son, a father, brother, uncle, nephew and cousin. And we would like to share a few of our memories of him.

Right from the start, we knew that Nathan was special.

He was always full of excitement and we never knew what his next adventure would be, from coming home covered in mud after playing paintball to surprising us with his motorcycle.

Even as a child, Nathan spent his summer days waking up early, bursting to go outside to meet his friends. His contagious smile and endless laughter were some of the reasons why he made friends so easily.

When asking our family for stories they would like to share about Nathan, there were so many special memories it was impossible to share them all.

One funny memory was an Easter egg hunt when Nathan was the smart one that grabbed a wagon to run around with, so that he could get the most treats in the quickest time. Well, some of our other cousins were whining.

Some of you may not be aware that Nathan was meticulous. Not only was he a well-groomed man, he was very particular about his belongings. Everything had its own place.

Nathan was a dishwasher pro. He would rearrange the entire dishwasher to perfectly place every dish to his standards. But it's no wonder he was like this as his mom was his original drill sergeant. After all, it was quoted by the mayor that her house is as clean as a whip.

Nathan had a genuine interest in military history and a love for the outdoors. With his boundless energy, it was no surprise to his loved ones when he became a cadet.

As a family, it was an absolute joy watching Nathan grow from an eager cadet to a dedicated corporal.

Aside from his devotion to the Argylls, Nathan was sincere and respectful, especially to elders. He never hesitated to help, whether it was carrying in groceries or opening a door, he was always willing to lend a hand.

Nathan may have looked like a big tough man, but he was such a kid at heart. It was beautiful to see the joy he had while playing with his son. Marcus adored him so much. Not only was Nathan his dad, he was also his friend.

Growing up, Nathan, Nicole and Natasha may have fought like cats and dogs, like most families do. But the three of them did everything together.

Every year, they looked forward to their trip to Darien Lake, a family reunion and celebrating birthdays and holidays together. These are the family values and ideals that were instilled to them by their mom and Vic.

There was always a dog in the Cirillo home. Even though they were only little poodles, Nathan couldn't wait to get his own place so he could get a real dog. You know, the kind that shed and drool and walk you.

Kaya and Jagger were extremely lucky to have been trained and deeply loved by Nathan.

I hope that when we think of Nathan, these are some of the things that we remember.

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Prime Minister Harper:

Ladies and gentlemen.

We're gathered here today to give thanks for the life of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, struck down last week in the service of his country. His country, our country, our Canada.

Ever desiring peace, Canada has been built upon the noblest ideals: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

And for as long as these ideals have been the foundation of our country, it has been our men and women in uniform who have been in the end their ultimate guardians.

Sometimes, they have given their lives in that service. And last Wednesday, Cpl. Cirillo became the latest to do so.

Cpl. Cirillo was a member of one Canada's great regiments, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada Princess Louise's.

In more than a century of service with honours earned from the Somme to Afghanistan, this regiment's record of courage under fire is as distinctive as their kilts and their Glengarries.

To quote Sam Chapman, who served with the regiment during the Second World War, it is a history written in blood.

Now sadly, Cpl. Cirillo has added another page to that great narrative of devotion unto death.

In a bitter and truly heart-wrenching irony, he did so as he guarded Canada's national place of solemn sacred remembrance.

Canadians come together at our National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beside it to honour those who have given their lives for their country.

As Canadians we stand there humbled, humbled and grateful because these monuments remind us that freedom has a price, that freedom is never free. It has been earned by the soldier and then donated to all of us.

Most of us can never truly understand the significance to a soldier of the simple act of standing reverently on guard at that place.

But those chosen for this sought-after assignment, this vigil at the National War Memorial and over the Unknown Soldier's grave, they understand.

Cpl. Cirillo, who felt the calling of a soldier when he was just a 13-year-old cadet, he understood. He knew what he was protecting and what he was preserving. He died protecting and preserving it.

And I'm pleased to note that after only a brief interruption, on Friday past, the honour guard at that sacred place officially resumed its duties.

For Canadians, the memory of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo will now be forever linked to that place, just as the crowds that gathered there to honour the returning sentries mirrored those along the Highway of Heroes later that same day to bear witness to Cpl. Cirillo's final journey home.

He has now joined the ranks of so many brave Canadians who have gone before him, having given all in the service of their country.

Our hearts are broken at his loss, but our spirits are grateful for his memory. Cpl. Cirillo knew what all those men and women who died before him also knew: the most precious values are those that can cost us our lives, the only values really worth living for are those worth dying for.

So, may God bless Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. We're better for his life, and we're diminished by his loss. And I know Canadians everywhere join me in praying for Cpl. Cirillo's family. His mother Katherine, his father Victor, his sisters Nicole and Natasha, their partners Richard and Jonathan, his nephew Cameron as they shoulder this terrible burden of grief. May time ease the searing pain of today.

And may his son, young Marcus Daniel Cirillo, some day find comfort in the fact that our entire country looks up to his dad with pride, with gratitude, with deep abiding respect.

As Canadians, we will persevere, taking strength from the legacy of service of Cpl. Cirillo and giving thanks all the more for the courage and dedication of all the men and women of the Canadian armed forces.

May God bless them all and may God keep our land glorious and free.