Unknown Soldier laid to rest at shrine to veterans
Soberly acknowledging his anonymity, but pledging to never forget his sacrifice, Canada buried an unknown soldier Sunday who died in battle overseas more than 80 years ago.
"He is Canada's lost son no more," said Prime Minister Jean Chretien at the special tomb at the foot of the National War Memorial.
A 21-gun salute rang out as the procession began at Parliament Hill and RCMP horses began pulling a century-old gun carriage bearing the soldier's casket.
Chretien, Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson, and hundreds of veterans from the First and Second World Wars walked slowly behind the coffin.
They filed past a crowd of at least 10,000 people who had lined the streets of Ottawa to honour the nameless soldier and other Canadians killed in battle.
After the silver maple coffin was placed into the granite sarcophagus, veterans poured in soil from each of the country's provinces and territories along with soil taken from the cemetery in France.
Paul Metivier, a 100-year-old First World War vet and Ernest "Smoky" Smith, a Victoria-Cross winner of the Second World War, read the simple words of Laurence Binyon's Act of Remembrance:
"They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning We will remember them."
In a moving eulogy, televised across the country by CBC's Newsworld, the Governor General said the soldier is a symbol of all sacrifices made by all of Canada's soldiers.
"The only certainty about him is that he was young," she said. "If death is a debt we all must pay, he paid before he owed it."
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"He has become more than one body, more than one grave," Clarkson added. "He is an ideal. He is a symbol of all sacrifice. He is every soldier in all our wars."
The Unknown Soldier had lain in state in the Hall of Honour under the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill since Friday.
The memorial site is dedicated to all 110,000 Canadians who've lost their lives fighting in wars this century especially the 27,000 who have no known graves.
The soldier was killed in 1917 at Vimy Ridge Canada's hard-fought victory during the First World War.
The remains were flown to Canada from France last Thursday after being handed over to Canadian officials in Vimy.
"We don't know his name, we don't know his age, we don't know his unit. Nobody knows. Only God knows that," Veterans Affairs Minister George Baker said at last week's ceremony in France.