Friday Two Cents: Ottawa Trip Part 5 – The National War Memorial


twoCentsOldNew_George

The other memorial I visited is the one most dear to my heart and sense of patriotism. It is the National War Memorial. Unveiled in 1939 to commemorate the Canadians who served in World War I (WWI), it has over the years come to symbolize the tremendous sacrifice of all Canadians who served in times of war for freedom. It has been later rededicated and the dates 1939 – 1945 (World War II (WWII)) and 1950 – 1953 (Korean War) has been placed in bronze on each side of the memorial. In 2000 the Tomb of Canada’s Unknown Soldier was added on the site in front of the memorial. Inside is a Canadian soldier that fought during WWI near the site of the battle of Vimy Ridge. Today it is the site of Canada’s Remembrance Day celebrations and stands as a constant reminder that the cost of freedom is sometimes paid for in blood.

For me this is one of the most important sites in Ottawa and whenever I visit the capital I always visit the memorial to pay my respects to the people who fought, so that I may live in a country that is free. A country where I do not have to fear religious persecution, where I have the freedom to say and do what I want; a country where the government is elected by the people for the people. A country where my little nieces will grow up free to vote and be whatever they want to be.

I use to come once every two years for the Remembrance Day celebrations but I have not been to Ottawa in about 15 years and therefore I have not visited the memorial. This is my first time seeing the Tomb of Canada’s Unknown Soldier and I could not help but be touched by the thought of who and what it represents. We do not know who he is, only that he was a Canadian. He represents all our sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and friends who died in service for all of us. I could not help but stop and say a silent prayer of thanks and gratitude for his sacrifice.

When I arrived and spent time at the memorial I could not help but reflect of what this memorial represents to me.   For me this memorial is a symbol to all Canadians that this country is the way it is because of those who sacrificed so much on the altar of freedom.   Then the words from the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ came to me and their words mean so much even today nearly 100 years after they were written. It speaks of the dead, passing the torch to the next generation and to remember them. And then the words rang true to me …

In Flanders fields the poppies blow


Between the crosses, row on row,


That mark our place; and in the sky


The larks, still bravely singing, fly


Scarce heard amid the guns below.



 

We are the Dead. Short days ago


We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,


Loved and were loved, and now we lie


In Flanders fields.



 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:


To you from failing hands we throw


The torch; be yours to hold it high.


If ye break faith with us who die


We shall not sleep, though poppies grow


In Flanders fields.

In Flanders Fields by Major John McCrea

(A Canadian poet and physician who served in World War I)

It is my turn to take up the torch and hold it high. I will not break faith with those who die. They can sleep though poppies grow, in Flanders Fields.

Rest, be at peace and thank you.

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