National Sentry Program 2020
To limit the spread of COVID-19, the National Sentry Program was delayed in 2020 from its expected start date of April 9. With precautionary measures now in place, the program will safely resume on July 13 and run up to an including 10 November at a reduced schedule. Sentries will be posted Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
To ensure the health and safety of sentries and visitors alike, the National Sentry Program may pause, adjust hours or end early based on future recommendations by health authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19. When planning your visit, please check one of our social media pages to confirm whether there are any changes to the program.
About the program
The National Sentry Program reinforces Canada’s commitment to remember and honour those Canadians who served in the major wars of the twentieth century, including both World Wars, as well as those who have contributed to Canada’s long-standing tradition of military excellence through to the present day.
On October 22, 2014, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was tragically killed while on sentry duty. Sentry duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier now holds an even deeper meaning for both the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian public.
The Canadian Armed Forces has been posting sentries at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the months of July and August since 2007. Normally, the program has included a rotation of sentries from the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force, drawn from units across Canada.
This year, to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, all three services will be represented, however sentries will be drawn only from local units.
This decision was not made lightly, as members across Canada feel great pride in the opportunity to represent the milestones of their units and to pay personal respects through sentry duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Selecting sentries who live in the National Capital Region will limit the need for members to travel, which will reduce the risk of community spread.
As important as it is to commemorate significant anniversaries and accomplishments that have been instrumental to the growth and prosperity of Canada and our military heritage, the Canadian Armed Forces is mindful of the limitations of a COVID-19 environment. The National Sentry Program 2020 was only scheduled after consultation with health agencies and the City of Ottawa.
The City of Ottawa welcomes this outdoor activity as a low-risk opportunity for residents and possible visitors to feel there is a sense of normalcy as Canada begins to adopt reopening phases following recent isolation measures.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is Canada’s most iconic and visible reminder of the service and sacrifice of members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
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.
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.
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