When It Hits Home

by Cameron Jeffs on October 23rd, 2014

One of the great Canadian heroes of the last 50 years is Terry Fox. As a parent, my three oldest children have now had projects for school that revolved around Terry’s life. One of the highlights of a recent trip to Ottawa was to see the Terry Fox statue and memorial immediately across the street from Parliament Hill. What touched my heart were the look in their eyes and the excitement in their words as they spoke about Terry Fox. It vividly reminded me of July 9th, 1980. To many this day was just another day. For a young boy in the suburbs of Toronto, this was a very special day. It was the day in which the Marathon of Hope was coming to Oshawa. It would be the first and only time that my family and I had the privilege and honour to see Terry Fox.

To many during that time in Canadian history, cancer was simply the name of a disease. It was known but it wasn’t prominent in the hearts and minds of most Canadians. It was too far away from home. Even though many knew of someone who had the disease, very few were impacted by it as it had yet to touch their own family. For my family it was different. My aunt got the news in the mid 1970’s that she had leukemia. I know for myself, that it would take many years before I would completely understand what that word meant. But for my parents and for my dad in particular, cancer had hit home. It was no longer something that was far away or disconnected. Cancer was now in the forefront of our thinking. Prior to the Marathon of Hope, my aunt passed away. She was only 31 years old. This disease took something that was very precious to our family. With her passing, came an immediate response among those who knew and loved her: the need to raise awareness of this disease and to raise funds in order to help researchers find a cure. With the memories of my aunt’s passing firmly planted in the forefront of our minds, we heard Terry Fox speak about an idea. This idea led to a cause. This cause catalyzed a movement. This movement touched generations and continues on as a memorial to Terry’s life. Every year the Terry Fox Run has become a symbol of the heroic fight many Canadians and many people around the world continue to fight. What started on September 13th, 1981, has now become the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research and over $600 million has been raised in his name.

Why am I talking about Terry Fox today? Exactly 2 blocks from the Terry Fox monument stands another monument: the National War Memorial. This site serves as the federal war memorial and also includes the Canadian “Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier”. The National War Memorial is one of the most precious sites in Ottawa and is present to remind us of the many people who courageously gave their lives to keep our country safe and to further the cause of freedom and democracy throughout the world. Yesterday, an act of terrorism and tyranny took place at this very memorial. What was meant to be a symbol of peace and freedom had become a picture of hate and fear. This act of terrorism hit close to home. It wasn’t in the Middle East. It wasn’t even in New York or Washington or Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It wasn’t in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado or an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. It was in our capital city! It was in our own backyard. It was at the place that many of us have been to and taken pictures of. It was the place my family drove by just a few months ago. Terrorism happened where my father was working that day. Terrorism hit close to home.

It is interesting to know today that another name used for the National War Memorial is “The Response”. Yesterday we saw the response of courageous first responders and civilians who came to the aide of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo before he tragically passed away. We saw the heroic response of the RCMP, Ottawa Police and the parliamentary security team as they selflessly protected our nation’s Members of Parliament as well as civilians in the downtown core. We saw the brave response of Kevin Vickers, the Sergeant-At-Arms of the House of Commons, who relied on his 29 years in the RCMP to successfully eliminate the gunman as he ran down the Hall of Honour.

So what does our response need to be? We have to make sure that the person of dishonour who died in the Hall of Honour does not change the values and hope of a free society through the use of fear, intimidation or hatred. The National War Museum must remain a symbol of peace and freedom. The halls of parliament must remain firm and dedicated to the peace under which it resides. As a people, we must remain resolute in the cause of freedom and peace which God has given us as a nation. We must remind ourselves that in this world, there will be trouble, but Jesus has overcome the world. Listen to the words of Jesus:

John 14:27 (NKJV) – “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

In the Book of 1 John, the apostle who was dearly loved by Jesus, shared that “perfect love casts out fear!” What an incredible response to overcome a paralyzing enemy. Love casts out fear! Love overcomes hatred! We will not fear! We will not be intimidated! We will stand together and remain steadfast in our devotion to the values in which this country was founded upon. We will stand in the very values that God has etched into the fabric of our society. We will stand in the love of Jesus Christ, the personification of grace and truth!