The day was cold and clear as only November can be. A ravens circled the cenotaph, a wheel of black ringing the Einherjar’s monument. Storm winds howled and circled, as the leaves wept red leaves upon the cold grey stone, and across the waiting crowds. The day of Remembrance had come, and with her sons slain here at home, the public answered.
The Remembrance is the single most Heathen ceremony that Canada owns. Odin’s own Einherjar blot, where the valiant dead home to the hearth fires they fell in defense of, to stand in the ranks with the living, and receive the praise of the land for which they fought, and for which they fell. It is a pledge renewed, each year, that those who remain will take up the defense of the freedoms for which the dead fell. It is a sacred trust that this act of terror sought to break.
The call went out from Isis to kill Canadian servicemen here at home. The weapon that served them so well in so many lands, the creation of fear through random killing, was used here in one of the most peace loving nations on earth. WO Patrice Vincent and Cpl Nathan Cirillo were struck down here in Canada to serve the two ends of turning Canadians of different backgrounds against each other, and make us grow afraid to come together to honour those who risk their lives in the service and defense of our nation.
They must by terribly disappointed.
We are not as other nations. We do not fly our pride from banners, nor sound it from trumpets. We do not look upon the shed blood of our sons and daughters, and in anger demand that blood should answer blood. Canada has different traditions.
Canadians have marched to war in almost every generation, under the Empire’s banner, and then our own, but we have done so without hate. It was enough to know our country called, and her sons, and now daughters, took up arms and marched away to do what must be done, because it must be done. They marched to war FOR hearth and home, for family and friends, for the freedoms they set aside so that they may be defended for those they left behind. They did not march AGAINST the foe, but for their homelands, and their sworn allies.
Canada is slow to draw the sword of war, but sheaths it only in victory. We do not fight in great crusades, nor are our soldiers shining saints. Our troops are professionals, one and all, and wage war as craftsmen. The hardest and dirties job before them, they go about it with dedication and discipline, with the good humour that surprises many, and with the brutal efficiency that surprises more. War hates no thing worse than half measures, so our troops have a well earned reputation for getting the job done, where others could not. It is a job though, and not a crusade. There is no hate, there is no drive for vengeance or retribution. It is a job to be done, and where killing is required do so fiercely, but where other tools will serve, will use those first, for peace is always and ever the goal of any war that is justly fought.
Two of our own were slain, here, in our homelands, as a symbol of what hate could do. It served instead to show what hate cannot do.
Heathens understand death perhaps better than most, and service folk better than any. To be a soldier, or any profession in which you stand into danger in the service of others, you accept that you can do everything right, and still be slain. The enemy too is trying to win. Death is not defeat, nor mistake, nor tragedy. Death is the cost of service that we try to minimize, but accept as inevitable to be present. Two Canadian soldiers fell in service, they were not defeated, they fell in the service of a grateful nation, and will shine forever in our memory. They are Einherjar.
There was no outpouring of hate against ethnic communities that spring from the lands that ISIS terrorizes. There was no outpouring of hatred against the faith that ISIS claims as its own. Fear is the success of terrorism; and in this, they failed. There was no fear. Crowds were larger than at any time in my memory. Service folk from every generation stood, and those citizens born, or newly come stood, to honour the ideals of a nation that will not submit to fear, will not answer blood with hate, but with reason and with courage.
Two soldiers fell, standing watch for us. Their watch is done. The freedom and unity that is the Canadian dream is no longer theirs to defend, but ours who live. On the Day of Remembrance, we take oath to those who fell, that is not in vain. We stand on guard for thee.