And it took an artist to channel our collective grief.
It depicts one of the bronze WWI soldiers from the National War Memorial escaping the pack to attend to the lifeless body of 24-year-old Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, whose image is only identified in colourful contrast by the Argyll and Sutherland Highland socks in white spats.
Art happens in the emotional minefield where makers dare to tread. It's a risky business, editorial cartooning; too strong or ambiguous and it becomes a target of already-highly-charged readers. Too sentimental or obvious and it dies on the page. MacKinnon did it right, and The Chronicle Herald had his back.
In a follow-up Herald story on that weighty cartoon, the artist said it was "gratifying" that in the internet age of image-bombardment "a single still image can still move so many people."
MacKinnon's modesty likely has something to do with how many media owners in this country regard the cartoon. Far from being an escapee from the funny pages, it is line drawing in and of the moment. It has the ability to distill public dispair with the point of a pen. Sometimes the one-panel will fall flat, but that fear does not deter artists from trying again. They can't help themselves, but it helps to be employed to keep at it.
As a former newspaper editor I grappled with editorial cartoonists over intention and ideas, but that all came to an abrupt end when the publisher announced that paying for an original weekly editorial cartoon was a waste of what had been whittled down to $100 per artwork. That was the beginning of the end for me.
So it's gratifying to see thousands of people virtually passing around this piece of art, bringing global attention to the remaining newspaper publishers who still see the value of paying to ensure original work by local artists are in their folds.