War Memorials – And Those Who Guard Them

National War Memorial, Ottawa Image: Jcart1534

National War Memorial, Ottawa
                                          Image: Jcart1534

Yesterday a terrible tragedy occurred in Ottawa. A gunman let loose in Canada’s capital, just minutes from where I used to live, wreaking havoc in Parliament and killing a soldier stationed at the War Memorial. It was all the more devastating to learn that the soldier was a 25-year old father of a 6-year old boy.

I’d never imagine any War Memorial to be the scene of an attack. It is in stark juxtaposition with the commemoration of those who had lost their lives, a reminder of that we currently live in the happy days of peace. Or is it more a reminder now not to take the status quo for granted?

Perhaps one of the most moving memorials I have ever visited is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, this past August. Two soldiers stand in constant guard, they never move, except to tell you to back off when noses are honing in a little too closely. I’m not sure why, but the Tomb exudes an aura of power amidst grief. Much of it probably has to do with the solemnity conveyed by its vigilant soldiers.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Warsaw Image: Guillaume Speurt

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Warsaw
Image: Guillaume Speurt

Those who guard these memorials are always stolid yet hyper alert. I don’t know how they do it, standing for hours, heedless of the weather and all the annoying tourists around them. Perhaps the steadfastness stems from the knowledge that they serve an intangible yet crucial purpose that transcends the daily bustle. Perhaps it just stems from gratitude.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s