I've visited Ottawa, the capital of Canada, twice. The first time was not long before I became pregnant with my son. It was May, and the tulips were blooming. The second time, we had our son with us, and he was in elementary school. I can't remember where we stayed, but I remember it had a waterslide. And they had day care.
We were able to leave our son in the hotel, and take a tour of the Canadian Parliament building. I loved the history and the differences between our politics, there in Canada, and here in the United States.
I loved the Peace Tower, in particular, which is the building you see on Parliament Hill with the clock. But it's so much more than a clock, or a bell tower, or an observation deck with a wonderful view, although it does have all of those.
An elevator takes you to the top. A guard stays with you at all times. Only seven people can be up there at a time.
There was a memorial chamber paying tribute to the Canadians who gave their lives in time of war. Many (not all) people from the United States tend to be self centered, barely aware of that large country to the north of us. (As I am an American, I can say that.) I've found that Canadians, on the other hand, are quite aware of the United States.
I lingered in the tower. My father was a disabled veteran of World War II. One of my uncles was a civilian casualty of World War I (yes, I'm that old).
There was several Books of Remembrance in the Memorial Chamber., with names of war dead. The walls tell a story, a story that humbled my spouse (a veteran, although not a war veteran) and me.
Canada has paid a heavy price in various wars. World War I. World War II. They have fought at our side in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just the other day, they were offering air combat jets for the fight against a terrorist group in Iraq. That offer may be the reason for what happened yesterday.
Yesterday, the tours of the peace tower were cancelled, as shots rang out in Parliament after a man shot and killed a soldier at the Canada War Memorial, and then opened fire in Parliament. The shooter was shot and killed.
Finally, the American media is paying attention. As I write this post (the night of October 22), some networks are providing extensive coverage - and discussion. We hear a recording of the shots, over and over.
In the Peace Tower, there are various poems on plaques in the walls. One of them is "In Flanders Field".
But, sadly, this is not a time for poetry. It may well become a time of war for us, as it for so many people in the world already.
Tomorrow, a (hopefully) happier topic.