As Chilliwack residents gathered to remember the sacrifices made to secure our freedoms, they were reminded last week that the battle is far from over.
Security at Remembrance Day services here and elsewhere in the country has grown progressively tighter since the 2014 murder of an unarmed soldier guarding the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa. The death of Corp. Nathan Cirillo, coupled with the killing of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent two days earlier, brought the risk of terror attacks here at home sharply into focus.
For the first time that Remembrance Day (which fell just three weeks after the murders) armed police officers were watching us and not the service. Uniformed officers scanned the crowds for possible threats; plainclothes police mingled in the audience.
This year, that security was upped another notch. RCMP members with semiautomatic rifles clasped to their chests were at the ready. But more pointedly, heavy gravel trucks were angled crudely across the roads, denying all vehicular access to the ceremony sites.
The move should not surprise us. It comes as terrorists trade their bombs and guns for stolen vehicles as weapons of choice. We’ve seen the devastating impact of these attacks in Europe and most recently New York City. Heavy vehicles, used as weapons, smashing indiscriminately through crowds of innocent people.
It would be tempting to think that the security measures in Chilliwack were a bit of an overreaction – until we remember that just a few weeks ago a vehicle was used to run down an Edmonton police officer, as well as several pedestrians. Fortunately no one was killed in that attack, but the suspect has been charged with five counts of attempted murder.
Threat of attack is the new norm, unfortunately. It does not mean we need to live in fear, but neither can we be complacent.
Too often we take our security for granted, forgetting the tens of thousands of Canadians who have died over the past century to protect that peace.
They’re fighting still. And the security measures at last week’s Remembrance Day services show just how close the front lines have moved.