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Legion Acknowledges 15th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

May 28, 2015
An Unknown Soldier buried in the vicinity of Vimy was re-interned in a sarcophagus in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa on May 28th, 2000

OTTAWA, ON, May 28th, 2015 – The Royal Canadian Legion acknowledges the 15th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier today.

“People seem to have forgotten that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a Legion initiative which was part of the federal government’s Millennium Project coinciding with the Legion’s 75th Anniversary,” says Dominion President of The Royal Canadian Legion, Tom Eagles.

The ceremony, held on Sunday May 28th 2000, was the culmination of two years of planning launched by the Legion in April 1998 and culminating with the disinterment of an unknown Canadian soldier from the Cabaret-Rouge Cemetery, France on May 25th 2000.

“As part of our Mission, the Legion strives to ensure that those who paid the ultimate sacrifice are not forgotten. Whether it is through our promotion and organization of the national Remembrance Day Ceremony and other events across the country, our annual Poppy Campaign or the creation and care of memorials like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” adds Eagles. “We honour the past and almost 116,000 Canadians who have, thus far, made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country,” states Eagles.

On Sunday May 28th 2000, the body of the Unknown Soldier was transported to the National War Memorial on a horse-drawn RCMP gun carriage. He was followed by more than 1,000 Veterans – one of the largest contingents of Veterans seen in many years. Then with full military honours, before a crowd of 15,000 the casket was re-interned in a sarcophagus in front of the National War Memorial. Before the casket was sealed, Legionnaires placed a handful of soil from each of Canada’s provinces and territories, as well as from the soldier’s former grave site on the casket.

It is worth noting that Canadians spontaneously began placing Poppies on the tomb at the conclusion of the National Remembrance Day Ceremony and it has become a tradition to this day.

While the Legion, with the support of other Veterans organizations, could recommend that a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier should be established at the National War Memorial, approval to do so rested in the hands of others. Indeed, a number of government agencies held responsibility for various aspects of the project and included Veterans Affairs Canada; Department of National Defence; Public Works and Government Services Canada; the Commonwealth War Graves Commission; and the National Capital Commission.

To mark this important event the Dominion Executive Council (DEC) approved the design and distribution of a “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” pin that is approved for Legion members to wear between November 1st 2015 and November 30th 2016.

Legion members wishing to purchase this pin, while supplies last, are invited to visit our online store: www.shop.legion.ca or by calling toll free to 888-301-2268.

For more information: Tomb of the Known Soldier – Backgrounder

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For further information please contact Bruce Poulin at Dominion Command, at (613) 591-3335 ext. 241 or by cell at (613) 292-8760 or bruce.poulin@legion.ca.