Remembrance Day held a special meaning for a Stouffville man whose son had been scheduled to guard the National War Memorial in Ottawa on the same day as the fatal shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
Mike Wynne said his son, Cpl. Ryan Wynne, was scheduled to take over guard at the memorial at noon on Oct. 22.
Shortly before 10 a.m. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed Cirillo before he charged into Centre Block on Parliament Hill and exchanged gunfire with Mounties and Parliament Hill security guards a few feet away in the Hall of Honour. Zehaf-Bibeau was killed in the exchange.
Wynne said before he had heard word of the shooting, he got a text from his 19-year-old son saying “Hey Dad just wanted to tell you I’m safe.”
He said his son knew Cirillo and that the two had become close during training.
“He said he was a great guy,” said Wynne. “He was a little bit older than my son and I think my son almost saw him like a big brother. My son just told me he was a fun guy to be around, always joking, had a great sense of humour and I think my son really looked up to him.”
Over the weekend Wynne traveled to Ottawa to see his son for the first time since the shooting. The two stood at the memorial as Cpl. Wynne continued his post.
“It was quite emotional seeing him, I was very proud of him. It was very tough to see that spot where it happened and see my son standing there,” he said. “It was therapeutic for him and it was therapeutic for me to go there and see him and give him a big hug.”
Wynne said it was courageous of his son and other soldiers to continue guarding the memorial.
“It was pretty brave of them to go back up there on the hill after that incident,” he said. “They all wanted to do it in honour of Nathan.”
Wynne says his son has now finished his guarding rotation and is expected back home Wednesday night.