“When you are dying, you need to be told how loved you are.”
She was an anonymous hero desperately laboring to save the life of a reservist mortally wounded at the cenotaph of Canada’s Unknown Soldier.
Who was this woman? Where did she find her courage?
Laura Eggertson answered the question for me. Laura is an award-winning journalist whose friend – Barbara Winters – was the woman in the picture. I share her story with permission.
Barbara was headed to a meeting near her office at the Canada Revenue Agency where she works as a lawyer. She paused at the National War Memorial, stopping to snap a few pictures of the two honor guards standing soberly at attention.
It was October 22, 2014.
Moments later, as she walked away, she heard four shots.
Running To The Roar
She began to run — not towards safety, but towards the shots.”
As Winters ran, she looked for — but couldn’t see — the two soldiers. Her mind went to the hit-and-run death in Quebec of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent two days earlier, and she instinctively knew the honor guards had been targeted.
As she reached the memorial, Winters saw four people bending over a fallen soldier. She dropped her purse and briefcase on the steps and began to help.
Margaret Lerhe, (read her account) a nurse on her way to work at the Elizabeth Bruyere Hospital, was pressing her hands to a wound on Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s left side to stanch the bleeding.
A corporal, a third member of the honour guard was on Cirillo’s right side, pressing his hands to a wound there.
Another soldier was bent over Cirillo’s head, talking to him. “You’re doing good, you’re doing good, buddy,” he told Cirillo. “You’re breathing — keep breathing.”
Another passerby was at Cirillo’s feet.
Winters, who served as a medic during her 17 years in the Naval Reserve, asked the man to elevate Cirillo’s feet. She loosened his tie.
With A Prayer
Winters began to pray, reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
She talked to Cirillo. He was conscious; his eyes were open, and he was staring straight ahead. She felt that he could hear her.
“You’re a good man, you’re a brave man,” she told him.
Read the rest of Laura’s article here.
Hear the CBC radio interview with Barbara here.
Laura Eggertson runs her own communications consultant business, and in addition to writing on adoption-related subjects, enjoys writing about health, science, education, and relationship issues. She is an award-winning journalist and previously worked for The Canadian Press in Toronto and Washington, D.C., and for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star in Ottawa. Laura facilitates an adoptive parents’ support group (Ottawa Adoptive Families) and is also a provincial representative for the North American Council on Adoptable Children and a co-founder of the Canadian Coalition of Adoptive Parents.
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