WATCH: Cadet standing guard – minus uniform
For the second day in a row, a 13-year-old cadet from Port Coquitlam stood guard at the city’s cenotaph in memory of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was shot and killed by a gunman at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday.
Jackson Reid recently joined the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada Army Cadet Corps. But even though he is new to the cadets, he was moved by the tragedy and wanted to pay his last respects.
Jackson’s mother Heidi Roggero Reid says her son comes from a long military line and was very touched by the fact Cirillo left behind a young son.
On Friday, Jackson braved the cold weather and stood guard for two hours. He returned Saturday, although he chose not to wear his uniform following a sweeping new directive issued by National Defence instructing troops across the country to stop wearing their uniforms in public.
Jackson says he had mixed feelings as he stood guard.
“I feel proud because I’m doing what I think is right, but I also feel sorrow for the fallen soldier,” he says. “It’s not about me, it’s all about them so I really just feel sorrow. I feel like this is what I needed to do. I need to finish what he has started.”
“I’m basically doing what I think all soldiers would do,” he adds.
Roggero Reid says she is not surprised by her son’s decision to honour Cirillo, but she has been surprised by the positive response he has received from the public.
“It’s a little overwhelming to find out suddenly that, within a 24-hour period, something that is commonplace behaviour for your child has inspired a number of people,” she says.
“People are coming down to the cenotaph today who might not have otherwise because Jackson is doing what he is doing,” says Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore. “We know that it’s now happening across the country and across the world.”
Veterans in many Canadian cities, including Vancouver and Edmonton, opted to stand guard at their local cenotaphs.
READ MORE: Many veterans prepare to stand guard at their local Cenotaphs on Saturday