In Ottawa, Ontario, at the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill,
it happens every morning at 11a.m. like clockwork.
After pinning on his war medals, he marches across polished floors
in the Rotunda to the solemn Memorial Chamber that occupies
the second level of the tower.
This chamber, built before World War II, is a monument in itself to Canada’s war involvement, with vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows and many carvings.
Inlaid into the floor are brass nameplates made from spent shell casings,
gathered from the WWI battlefields of major military participation.
Centered in this chamber, a stone altar (a gift from England)
rests upon black marbled steps quarried from Flanders Fields in Belgium.
Atop this altar, a brass display case sits with a glass lid,
held in place at its corners by four angels kneeling in reverence.
Surrounded by all this, lies a massive open book.
Other altars form a symmetrical semi-circle around this centerpiece with similar cases.
Inside these cases, “The Books of Remembrance” wait for his white-gloved touch.
And at the stroke of eleven, they awaken.
It is Time.
When Silence speaks.
Bells peal in the Peace Tower, as he snaps to attention
underneath the stone carving of the Silver Cross, to open the wrought iron gates
before entering the empty chamber.
(It is rare that spectators are given an opportunity to watch)
Marching to the center, he bows & salutes the case before opening it,
gingerly turns the vellum parchment,
~ every page in each book is unique! ~
closes the case, steps back, salutes, bows, and repeats his ritual again,
with the remaining cases before smartly marching off.
For the next 24hours, every book proudly tells of its own:
WWI (at center)
South African War/ Nile Expedition
In the Service of Canada
silently declaring to all gathered around them:
Our heroes ~ Remembered always
Until 11a.m. the next morning,
when he marches across polished floors in the Rotunda …
Page 361 from WWI Book of Remembrance
on display every August 8th
Roy Campbell ATKINSON (right-hand column, 12th name from the bottom)
is remembered by a Nation
|WWI BOR contains 66,655 names
WWII BOR = 44,893
Korea BOR = 516
Newfoundland BOR = 2,300
South African War/ Nile Expedition = 267
In the Service of Canada (Peacekeeping) BOR = 1,300
Merchant Navy BOR = 1,600
The Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance was unveiled November 11th 1994