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Thursday, October 23, 2014

When "It Can't Happen Here" Happens...

October 23, 2014

"It can't happen here."

You know, I often heard that a lot whenever a terrible event takes place in world news.  Anything terrible that happens always seems to happen somewhere else. 

We all like to think that nothing bad can ever happen in our town, or our country, or even in our world.  Sometimes we get a false sense of security in where we are because we seem to feel as though we live in a protective bubble where nothing bad can ever happen because it always seems to happen everywhere else.

On the morning of October 22, 2014, that bubble of security and safety was burst open.

By now, I'm sure that you have all heard the news of the terrible tragedy that took place in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  A tragedy that many are calling a "terrorist attack" on the capital city of Canada that left one Canadian soldier dead, and an entire region placed on lockdown... attack that happened just a few miles away from where I live.

Like everybody else in Canada, I was absolutely shocked by the news.  I was saddened to hear that Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot at the War Memorial in Ottawa outside of the Parliament Buildings, and my sadness quickly turned to anger and outrage when we later learned that Cirillo died of his wounds.

Suddenly, those words "it can't happen here" became a lot less meaningless.  Today's incident proved to all of us that there really is no place in the world that can be truly considered safe anymore, and you know what?  It makes me absolutely upset and angry to come to that conclusion.

I should also add that this attack in Ottawa comes just one day after another horrible attack in the province of Quebec in which two Canadian soldiers were run over in the community of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada by a man who had been influenced by extreme Islamists.  One of those soldiers later died of his injuries.

And I should also note that St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec is a much smaller community than Ottawa, Ontario, thus proving the point that terrible things can happen anywhere, despite the size of the community or nation. 

Living so close to Ottawa, I can tell you right now that people in my community were saddened, shocked, and a little bit scared of what was to come.  I know that some schools and businesses just outside of my town were put on lockdown as a precaution (including a school that my niece and nephew attend).  I can only imagine what kind of chaos took place in the city of Ottawa, with major shopping areas put on lockdown, transportation systems shut down, and people around the Parliamentary Buildings in Ottawa naturally on edge.

I remember visiting the Parliamentary Buildings in Ottawa nearly twenty years ago as part of a high school class trip thinking how wonderful of an opportunity it was to see politicians at work.  The last thing on my mind as a fifteen year old high school student was that anything bad could ever happen inside the walls of Parliament.

And yet, they did just a little under 24 hours ago.

As the lockdowns get lifted in Ottawa, and as the citizens of Ottawa struggle to find normalcy in their lives following what happened in the heart of their community, Canadians all over are feeling the same anxiety, sadness, and heartache over the attack that took place in the heart of our nation.

But even though I am sickened and saddened over the actions of these cowards (and believe me, I do consider these people to be nothing more than cowards), I'm not about to let them or anybody else tell me how to live my life.  I refuse to live in fear, or do things in my life differently because of the actions of these people.  And, you know what?  I think mostly everybody else who calls themselves Canadian will stand up and say that we do not live in fear.  We are Canadians and we are proud!

My heart goes out to the families of the two soldiers who were attacked in Quebec, as well as the family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.  Our hearts are broken, and we will forever remember the fallen soldiers as the heroes that they were.  Godspeed.

And, I also want to give kudos to the Pittsburgh Penguins who paid tribute to the nation that I call home and who showed their love and support to Canadians all over by playing "O Canada" before playing their scheduled hockey game last night.  That was such a noble gesture, and it was very much appreciated.

Canadians, stay strong.  There is strength in numbers.  We all need to stay together as one nation to wipe away the tears, to pick up the pieces, and to try and make sense of what has happened in both Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. 

While yesterday was such a sad the same time, it made me so proud to be a Canadian.  I love this country so much, and when someone tries to hurt it, it hurts me too.

(I'll post the entry that I had meant to post today tomorrow.  I needed to say something about what happened yesterday.)

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