Slain Canadian soldier heads home on ‘Highway of Heroes’

With family, Cpl. Nathan Cirillio’s mother, Kathy Cirillo (centre) follow the casket carrying her son, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, out of McEvoy-Shields funeral home in Ottawa Friday afternoon as it starts it’s escorted procession home to Hamilton October 24, 2104. (Julie Oliver / Ottawa Citizen)

(Reuters) – The body of a Canadian soldier shot dead while guarding the country’s war memorial in Ottawa began the journey to his hometown on Friday, in a last ride along the nation’s “Highway of Heroes.”

Police said a home-grown radical, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, on Wednesday before fleeing into the Parliament building where he was shot dead near where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting with lawmakers.

Mourners and supporters lined portions of a roughly 500-kilometer (310-mile) route along Lake Ontario where a black hearse accompanied by police vehicles was due to travel to the soldier’s home in Hamilton, Ontario.

Comrades from Cirillo’s unit, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, dressed in ceremonial kilts, white boots and garters, carried his flag-draped coffin from an Ottawa funeral home to the hearse while bagpipes played.

The “Highway of Heroes” tradition dates to 2002 when Canada’s first war dead began returning from Afghanistan, said Pete Fisher, author of “Highway of Heroes: True Patriot Love,” which was published in 2011.

The route leads to a coroner’s office in Toronto from an air base in Trenton, Ontario, where soldiers killed overseas were first taken. Mourners in the past have flocked to overpasses, hanging flags as a sign of respect… (Video at link)