OTD: King George VI unveils National War Memorial

On today’s date in 1939, King George VI unveiled the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

Fifty-five years later, in 1994, the Royal Canadian Mint commemorated the National War Memorial on a $1 circulation coin, entitled “Remembrance,” in honour of the contributions and sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers in both the First World War and Second World War as well as the Korean War.

The coin’s reverse features an image of the National War Memorial surrounded by the words “CANADA” and “DOLLAR.” It has a weight of seven grams, a diameter of 26 millimetres and a mintage of more than 40.4 million pieces.

CONFEDERATION SQUARE

The National War Memorial serves as a focal point of Confederation Square in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city.

The memorial is located between Parliament Hill and the Château Laurier hotel among several other commemorative buildings and monuments, including the Peace Tower and Memorial Chamber, the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument, the Animals in War Memorial, a Boer War memorial, the Peacekeeping Monument, the Valiants Memorial and the War of 1812 Monument.

The National War Museum on Remembrance Day 2007.

The National War Museum is shown on Remembrance Day in 2007.

SENTRIES STATIONED

On the evening of Canada Day in 2006, retired Canadian Forces major Dr. Michael Pilon observed and photographed a group of young men urinating on the memorial.

Two teenagers eventually issued apologies and were ordered to do community service while another man, Stephen Fernandes, 23, of Montreal, was charged with mischief by the Ottawa Police Service. He later claimed he didn’t remember urinating on the memorial.

The incident – along with the common sight of skateboarders and bikers riding on the memorial’s podium – prompted the posting of sentries at the site; however, they are only present from April 9 to Nov. 10 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The base of the National War Museum, designed by Vernon March.

The base of the National War Museum was designed by Vernon March.

ARMED GUNMAN

Nearly a decade later, on Oct. 22, 2014, a gunman armed with a rifle shot at the on-duty sentries and fatally wounded Corporal Nathan Cirillo, of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, before proceeding across the street and into the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings.

There, the gunman was killed in a firefight inside the building.

Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who killed the gunman, were mentioned by then Governor General David Johnston in his speech during the Remembrance Day ceremony that year.

The monument was re-dedicated once again to include those who served in the Second Boer War, the War in Afghanistan and to “formally recognize all Canadians who served in the past, who serve today, and who will serve in the future.”

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