Veterans to be remembered at National Military Cemetery

A historian at one Ottawa cemetery is inviting the public this Remembrance Day to take a walk through their graveyard to learn about the military members and civilians buried inside its gates.

Soldiers have been buried on the grounds of the east Ottawa cemetery for a century

André Levesque served more than 35 years with the Canadian Armed Forces and is now the volunteer chief historian of the Beechwood Cemetery. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

A historian at one Ottawa cemetery is inviting the public to take a walk through their gates this Remembrance Day and learn more about the military members and civilians buried inside.

While many people will head down to the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa today, another group will pay its respects over at the National Military Cemetery, located inside the Beechwood Cemetery.

"It's open for people to come and visit, to walk, to look around and to enjoy the history that's all around us," André Levesque, a military veteran and a historian at the cemetery, told CBC Radio's In Town and Out.

"[It's important] to take a precious moment to appreciate those who are close and not so close here at the cemetery [and] to understand what they went through — the sacrifice and suffering for a lot of them."

Military cemetery officially recognized in 2007

Founded in 1973, Beechwood Cemetery is also home to the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery, the Ottawa Police Service Memorial Cemetery and the National CSIS Cemetery.

The majority of the people buried there, however, are civilians.

Veterans and soldiers have been laid to rest there for more than 100 years, but the National Military Cemetery was only officially recognized in September 2007, leading to the amalgamation of the four military burial sites.

This tree at the National Military Cemetery was dying, so the site's caretakers decided to turn it into a commemorative sculpture to honour those who died in war. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Pathways were put in place to connect the four sections. 

Items and sculptures from various wars were also placed around the cemetery, to honour those who lost their lives during the conflicts.

Levesque said several soldiers who died in Afghanistan are also buried there.

"The families of the deceased were very strong on bringing them back where they can be honoured and respected," he said. "The National Military Cemetery was the place overwhelmingly chosen."

The Remembrance Day ceremony at the National Military Cemetery begins at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

CBC Radio's In Town and Out