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Local sentry honoured to stand at War Memorial


One could hardly blame the military person who stands guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for feeling some apprehension. It was October past when Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down as he watched over the sacred tomb. He was 24 years old.

Photo submitted by the Canadian Armed Forces
Master Cpl. Glenn Keefe stands at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. From this province, Keefe will be there until May 24.

He wasn’t the only person killed that day. The gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was later shot and killed himself. The rampage was considered an insult to the National War Memorial. The tomb holds the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died in France during the First World War. The soliders who stand there do so as a way to reinforce that the country will not forget to honour all those who have served.

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The 2015 National Sentry Program season has begun and one soldier who now stands at the memorial and tomb is from this province.

Master Cpl. Glenn Keefe was born in Goose Bay, Labrador, and raised in Twillingate. It’s not apprehension, but pride and honour that can be heard in his voice as he speaks about standing at the memorial. The tragic events of Oct. 22 galvanized those feelings.

“It just meant that much more to stand there and the fact that I’m remembering my grandfather who served in the Royal Navy for 25 years. My uncle on my dad’s side was killed in the Second World War. My brother served and I’m serving,” he says.

Keefe is a dental technician in the Canadian Armed Forces stationed at CFB Trenton. May 13 marked the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Dental Corps and so he volunteered to stand at the memorial from April 27 to May 24 as part of that anniversary’s recognition.

“It’s a very, very important place,” he says.

“We stand there knowing that it is an honour to stand there. People keep asking me, ‘Do you feel scared?’ No, I don’t. They ask me if I’m nervous. No, I’m not. I think standing there now has that much more meaning.”

He says the monument can go from having zero people to 500 in a matter of moments, as tour groups show up to pay their respects. As he stands silently, he’s offered a unique look at how the public feels and reacts towards the memorial and tomb. Some people pause and stay silent. Some lay flowers.

“What we hear the most is ‘Thank you’,” he says.

It’s a sentiment Keefe also gives in gratitude for getting to do the job.

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