Last week, a terrible thing happened in Ottawa that affected us all. In the span of a week, we tragically lost two soldiers, one of whom was shot down as he stood sentry at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at Ottawa's War Memorial.
It was an incredibly difficult day, and week.
However, through darkness, comes light. And as Canadians, and residents of this amazing capital city, we came together in beautiful ways. We went back to work the next day, in the downtown core. We payed respect by leaving flowers, notes, and stuffed animals at the War Memorial. We wore red, and we put on our poppies a little earlier. We saluted our fallen soldier on the Highway of Heroes. We mourned the loss of a young man, because of all he represented; life, joy, youth, and a proud love for his country. He was a also a single father, and now, he's left behind a young child, a little boy who will always know what a brave man his father was.
My mom, artist Katerina Mertikas, quickly got to work within hours of the attack on Ottawa, and painted a beautiful painting depicting our fallen solider standing guard at the War Memorial, being saluted by his son.
This painting was an outlet for my mom's emotions, but it became much more than that—it became a symbol of something larger, and it touched thousands of people across the city, and Canada. My mom was overwhelmed and touched by the outpouring of emails, phone calls, messages, and likes for this painting, and everyone wanted to know if she'd be making prints, and if this piece of art would benefit Cpl. Cirillo's son.
And the answer is yes... she's been working with the Mayor of Ottawa, past mayor's, (especially Jacquelin Holzman) and with Koyman Galleries to turn this painting into a print with profits going directly the trust fund that is set up for Nathan Cirillo's son.
The print can be ordered online, here.
The painting appeared in The Ottawa Citizen on two different days, and again, people were moved and touched. Today, my mom was on the front cover of The Ottawa Citizen (I'm so proud of her!) and a lovely article written by Peter Simpson accompanies the picture.
From today's article: "It was an unprovoked attack on a young man who chose to serve his country at such a distinguished piece of land in Canada. We're just trying to do something that is memorable, and honourable," Mertikas says.
If you'd like to see the original painting in person, you can, at Koyman Galleries this weekend during her annual art show. You can also purchase the print in person at the gallery.
In a time of sadness, I always think about how I can give back to those who are suffering the most. And this is such an excellent way to help this young man's son.