The Emotional Tidal Wave

Canadian Flag with Canada Strong as a caption
I created this last night when I needed to express my love for Canada

*Note: I won’t get political here; that is for another time. But I will also not stand idly by and allow Prime Minister Harper to be denigrated by those who hate him merely for their own reasons and refuse to see all the good he stands for, and has brought about in Canada.

On September 14, 2001, I stood in my kitchen on crutches, having fractured my fibula 2 weeks earlier, watching the television on the counter, in tears of the deepest emotions, and watched a worldwide prayer service unfold on the screen. It was 3 days after the worst terrorist attack on United States soil, and I remember when the services in Canada were shown.

There was a beautiful blue sky, and the majestic clock tower of our Parliament building stretching up into the sunlight. Still picturing those planes flying into the World Trade Centers, I remember thinking, “We’re not immune. We are so vulnerable.”

I never lost that – I never fooled myself into thinking Canada would never be attacked. In fact, I think I was just waiting for that shoe to drop.

Yesterday, it did. In events that shocked the world, and shattered mine, we were attacked.

It wasn’t a massive attack in terms of lives lost. It wasn’t loud or smoke-filled or broadly chaotic or (for want of a better word) grandiose.

But it was a very profound statement to our country, by someone who stood for much more than the lone-wolf stereotype being put forth in analyses.

It came 2 days after another attack – one that took place just 45 minutes away from my sleepy suburb. One that killed a soldier, and one that was classified “terror” just hours after it happened. That was shocking enough.

But there was something so surreal about seeing the capital of Canada, an iconic building in that capital, and the symbol of our very democracy, under attack; chaotic in its own right as a citywide lockdown remained in place into the nighttime hours.

There was something so bizarrely shocking about seeing our country’s capital city portrayed on U.S. news networks in a terrorist attack framework, broadcasts that lasted through the entire day, many without even taking a commercial break.

And there was something so profoundly moving about the tweets and Facebook messages I got from American, British, and Aussie friends offering love and support to my country. By the early evening, there was a flood of red and white across social media as scores of people – of all nationalities – changed their display photos to our flag.

I cried too easily yesterday. I didn’t even try to stop or explain it.

I broke down inconsolably when the Pittsburgh Penguins organization announced, prior to a game against Philadelphia, that in solidarity with Canada, they would sing the National Anthem, and the voices from the stands rang out in the familiar strains of “O Canada”. I watched the video twice. And broke down both times.

And I just saw that Boston did the same. And I reacted the same way. Again.

I am sad that our military personnel across this gorgeous land are being told not to wear their uniforms in public. The pride they feel in their stature, their place in the fabric of our guard, the joy they get from donning those garments must now be closeted because they may be in mortal danger for merely showing their roles in our lives. When I read the announcement that this should become the current norm, I broke down yet again.

I’ve tried to analyze my feelings. I’ve heard many people diminish the incident as “one mentally ill man”. Well, yes. Anyone who does something this heinous is mentally ill.

I’ve heard it relegated to a “just one guy died, and while that’s tragic, it wasn’t like 9/11.”

One is too many, first of all. And two soldiers died, when Patrice Vincent was mowed down by another Jihadist terrorist two days earlier. And I know those who say that kind of thing don’t mean to downplay Corporal Cirillo’s death. But they are looking at what did not happen.

I don’t see it that way.

In two short days, we have had two men take the lives of military heroes, in the name of Jihad.

We can’t diminish this to numbers of dead vs. other terrorist attacks. Anytime we see terrorists take lives, threaten lives, harm others, it is bigger than the act itself; it is what that act symbolizes. And it stands for hatred. Hatred born of an ideological way of thinking. Extremism that goes beyond simple disagreement.

I want to ask those people who downplay the death toll, where does the line start, for this kind of emotion? Must it be 10 people who die? 20? 50? 100?

The families of Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent don’t think 1 is manageable.

And nor do I.

This was an attack on me, personally. I love my country. I have come to feel more patriotic, more proud and more protective of her than ever before, as I’ve grown more politically and ideologically aware.

And this was an attack on my home. Ottawa was the place it happened, but Canada was the target.

If you want to talk numbers, think of what was averted. Were it not for the overwhelmingly heroic actions of Sargent-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, wholesale slaughter would have been the headlines, including perhaps our incredible Prime Minister and the leaders of the opposition, along with all the other elected officials who were in active meetings on either side of the hall the terrorist took on his last run.

I don’t believe there is – or should be – a mandatory minimum dead before we react emotionally.

I make no apologies for my tears, my hair-trigger emotions, or my deep sadness at what has transpired, and what it means for my country.

I embrace those things; because their presence in my life this week reminds me of how much I love Canada, and how desperately I want to see her – and us – thrive in the freedom our soldiers have died to protect. That now includes Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent.

Honoring those men means we do not allow their deaths to become murder statistics or stars on a wall. It means we stick to our resolve not to allow the terrorists to win. It means we support the strength our government is showing and the mission Canada has undertaken to play a major part in helping to rid the world of these monsters.

Downplaying the meaning of this week’s attacks dishonors their memory.

And I won’t do that – nor will I stand idly by while others attempt to boil it down to “mental health issues” or “lone wolf acting alone in an isolated incident” theories.

Not facing the reality just leaves us open to more attacks. We may yet see more, in short order, or in the long run. But playing ostrich is foolish and ignorant.

And while I continue to struggle in trying to find the balance between vigilance and paranoia, I stand more proudly alongside our military, our citizens, and our government, as a Canadian through and through, who loves and honors her country and all it has to offer.

I’ll get a handle on my emotions. But like Canada, I have changed forever. I plan to take that change and make it work in my favor.

For now – I just need to allow the easy tears to flow.

G-d keep our land glorious and free.

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