Corporal Branden Stevenson issued a statement to the media on November 3, 2014 commenting on the tragic events of October 22, 2014 when Corporal Nathan Cirillo, standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was killed by a gunman who later stormed the Parliament Buildings.
Stevenson and Cirillo were lifelong friends and stood together as sentries that day.
“Nathan Cirillo was my friend, though he was more like a brother. We met in Grade 9 and from that time on, we were pretty much inseparable. We were very proud to be here together watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, honouring all those who have fallen,” said Cpl Stevenson, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
With the mounting of sentries at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the National Sentry Program reinforces the Canadian commitment to remember and honour Canadians who served in both World Wars, as well as those who have contributed to Canada’s long standing tradition of military excellence through to the present day.
The sentries reinforce public awareness that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is to be treated with dignity, tribute and respect.
Stevenson’s family, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in Hamilton, and his extended family within the Canadian Armed Forces are helping him through this very difficult time. He is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from across Canada and around the world, and intends to resume his duties as sentry at the National War Memorial.
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces perform sentry duty from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm during the dates April 9 to November 10 every year. In addition, sentries are mounted to commemorate other significant military anniversaries between November and April.
“I still believe Canada is a nation of peace where soldiers within its borders need not take up arms. My fellow soldiers and I remain proud and committed to watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a strong, silent reminder of every person who made the ultimate sacrifice. Nathan Cirillo was my friend, my best friend, my brother. I will miss him forever.”
In May 2000, the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died in the First World War were repatriated from France and, with great ceremony, were buried in a special tomb in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created to honour the more than 116,000 Canadians who sacrificed their lives in the cause of peace and freedom.
Furthermore, the Unknown Soldier represents all Canadians, whether they be navy, army, air force or merchant marine, who died or may die for their country in all conflicts past, present, and future.