Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo
Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo, image source Facebook

Canadians felt anger and sadness when Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo ( a reservist member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) was fatally shot while taking a turn as part of the Ceremonial Guard watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at 9:50 a.m. on October 22, 2014.

If there is a silver lining here, it is because of Kevin Michael Vickers, Canada’s Sergeant-at-Arms. Kevin Vickers came out of his office carrying a pistol, and shot the gunman.

Kevin Vickars, Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons
Image source: http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/2k0f0d/this_is_the_man_who_fatally_shot_the_terrorist/

But what of the National War Memorial (also known as The Response)?

It stands in Confederation Square, Ottawa, and serves as the federal war memorial for Canada.

National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)
H.M. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth unveiling the National War Memorial, Ottawa, Canada, May 21, 1939.

It commemorates the First World War, and was rededicated to include the Second World War and the Korean War. It symbolizes the sacrifice made by every Canadian who has died or may yet die for their country.

 

 

The contract for the construction of the arch was awarded in December 1937 and the entire cenotaph was completed on 19 October 1938, after which the landscaping surrounding the memorial was laid out and installed by Toronto contractors. On May 15, 1939, the Post Office Department issued a stamp called National Memorial.

On May 21, the memorial was officially unveiled by George VI, King of Canada, in the presence of an estimated 100,000 people, months before the Second World War began.

The memorial serves as the focal point of Remembrance Day (November 11) ceremonies in Ottawa.

A national scandal arose following Canada Day (July 1) in 2006, when a group of young men were photographed urinating on the memorial at night, after celebrating the national holiday. This incident prompted the establishment of a Guard of Honour at the site, though the soldiers of the Ceremonial Guard are only present between 9 am and 5 pm from June through August. The navy and the air force also do rotations here in the summer months.

Yesterday, a Canadian Forces soldier on ceremonial duty at the memorial was shot and killed by an armed man. The gunman then crossed the street and entered the Centre Block building of the nearby Canadian Parliament complex, where a firefight ensued between the shooter and members of building security. A security guard was wounded and the suspect was killed. The slain soldier was Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, from Hamilton, Ontario.

Whenever the monarch or another member of the Royal Family is in Ottawa, they will, regardless of the date, lay a wreath at the monument. Other prominent dignitaries who have laid wreaths at the memorial include President of the United States John F. Kennedy in 1961 and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990.

Let us never forget.

26 comments

  1. I don’t know how many times I have stood at that memorial over the years, or have walked through the halls of centre block (I worked there), but never thought that anything like this would happen. Thank goodness for the incredible team of individuals that ran towards the shots, not away, and tried to save him, and never left his side. RIP.

    Liked by 1 person

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