Q&A with Sgt. Peden, the Canadian Ranger leading the Remembrance Day Sentry Command

Article / November 8, 2022 / Project number: 22-0071

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While many Canadians wear the poppy in November to remember those lost at war, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) honours our fallen members over several months each year through the National Sentry Program.

It is a CAF initiative that reinforces Canada’s commitment to remembrance. CAF members can be seen standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day from June 5 until November 10. On Remembrance Day, the Tomb is a central gathering place for ceremonies in the National Capital Region, and an appointed CAF member leads the Sentry Command for the day.

This year, that honour goes to Sergeant Ryan Peden, a Canadian Ranger (CR) from Swan River, Manitoba. Sgt Peden performed Sentry duties in September and October of this year. His nomination to serve as Sentry Command is unique, as it marks the first time that a CR has taken on the role. It is also a nod to the 75th anniversary of the CR, which the CAF has been celebrating throughout 2022.

In the following interview with Sgt Peden, he shares his feelings on this honour, and what the 75th anniversary of the CR means to him.

Q: First of all, tell us more about you. What is your story?

A: I have been a member of the CR since 2019. Since I joined, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with many other members of the CAF. That being said, the bulk of my time consists of participating in my own community, and helping the Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (CRPG) within the area become more established and ready to rapidly respond to various emergencies and scenarios. I am reporting to 4 CRPG.

Q: The Sentry Program is definitely different than your day-to-day routine. What does it mean to you to be asked to stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

A: For me, it is very humbling. Standing in the presence of the emotions and memories that we can feel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is an experience I will never forget. The tomb and the memorial are there to serve as a reminder that many of the things we take for granted are not without cost, and many of our fellow Canadians paid that cost fully and permanently in order to protect us. To bring awareness of that sacrifice is the least anyone can do compared to the sacrifice that our fallen members made.

Q: What are your feelings on being asked to lead the Sentry Command?

A: Honestly, I am still in shock, but this is pretty extraordinary for me. I am very proud of the tasking and thankful for the trust put in me by my chain of command to handle such an important moment.

Q: This must definitely be a milestone for you. What exactly will be your tasks on November 11?

A: My primary duty will be to post the four guards who stand sentinel over the tomb. The time I spent standing guard during the fall definitely helped me prepare. It was extremely helpful as it got me in the right mindset for the required drill as well as allowing me to practice calling the drill in front of a large audience.

Q: What does the CR 75th anniversary mean to you?

A: I guess the biggest takeaway is a sense of comfort. It is comforting to know that we have been operating for 75 years and that, through all those years, we have been getting people ready and willing to protect, serve, and give their all to their communities, the other branches of the CAF and the nation. The CR fills a niche purpose within the CAF, but it is a needed one and that has been proved for 75 years. The fact that the CR are ready to respond with a minimal notice in isolated areas all over Canada, is comforting to the many Canadians who live, work, and serve within those communities.

Q: Do you have a memory of serving with the CR that is especially meaningful?

A: It would be difficult to pick only one moment. Working with the CR and the CAF is a great experience in itself. Every day is an adventure and an opportunity to broaden my knowledge. People really do make an organization and being able to learn, work, and collaborate with so many members of the CAF has been the biggest privilege and one of the most meaningful things.

Q: How would you describe the CR in three words?

A: I can’t do it in three words, but I will do it in four: Vigilans and Vigilamus pro te; a latin motto that can be translated to “we stand on guard for thee”.

Q: What message would you like to share with your fellow CAF members and Canadians as the lead of the Remembrance Day Sentry Command?

A: As a nation we cannot afford to forget the sacrifices made by our fallen soldiers in order to ensure that we can live in a society that is free and safe.  As members of the CAF, we have to honour those that came before us and assume the responsibility for similar moments that may lie ahead of us.  No matter where you are on Remembrance Day, I hope you’ll take a moment to think and reflect on what’s been sacrificed to ensure the peace we currently cherish.

To learn more about Remembrance Day and how to honour our fallen soldiers, please visit this page. You can also consult the related links section if you want to know more about the National Sentry Program or the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Rangers.

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