Canada’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been the focus of world news this week, being the site of Wednesday’s brutal murder of ceremonial guard Cpl Nathan Cirillo.
The Tomb of the Unknown Solder is a relatively recent addition to Confederation Square. In 2000, Canada repatriated the remains of an unidentified Canadian WW1 soldier from the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery in Souchez, near Vimy in France. The remains were reburied with great ceremony in the sarcophagus in front of the National War Memorial.
The tomb is granite with bronze relief work designed by Canadian artist Mary-Ann Liu.
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson gave the eulogy at the dedication ceremony on 28 May 2000: “This unknown soldier was not able to live out his allotted span of life to contribute to his country. But in giving himself totally through duty, commitment, love and honour he has become part of us forever. As we are part of him.”
At the end of the dedication ceremony, those in attendance spontaneously placed their poppies on the tomb. This mark of respect is repeated after every Remembrance Day ceremony. On Canada Day, visitors place small paper Canadian flags on the tomb.
These photos were taken a week apart. Last Sunday afternoon, I was pretty much alone with the ceremonial guards from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Yesterday, hundreds of people were gathered to pay their respects to the fallen reservists and to reclaim the public space. Along with flowers, the tributes include candles, notes, poems, hockey sticks, plush toys, action figures and origami cranes. Yesterday’s honorary ceremonial guards were the Governor General’s Foot Guards.
Monday is municipal election day in Ontario. Vote early, vote often! (OK, just kidding about often.) Voting is a democratic right that should never be wasted.