First Sikh soldier to guard Canada’s “Tomb of Unknown Soldier”

In a rare honour, an Indian-origin Sikh soldier has become the first man from his community to be chosen to stand guard at Canada’s prominent war memorial, the ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’.

Taj Aujla is one of the four Canadian soldiers, currently in Ottawa for three weeks, who have been posted for the sentry duty at the famous tomb located at the National War Memorial here.

“The basis of Sikhism is service to your country and your community. Being here is a big honour because I am representing the way of life of a Sikh. But it goes back to the tomb, that is why we’re here,” Aujla was quoted as saying by ottawacitizen.Com news portal.

“This gentleman – the unknown soldier – whoever he is, was serving. He made the ultimate sacrifice, for our freedom, for our country for us. To be a part of this is exactly what I practise on a day-to-day basis. What he did was very human,” said Aujla, whose great-grandfather and great-uncle served in a Sikh regiment in India.

Aujla joined the Canadian forces four years ago as he was attracted partly by the discipline and partly by the notion of service to others.

He said after learning about the posting for the sentry duty he leapt at the opportunity to join the ceremonial guard and researched on the tomb as he decided to offer his services.

“If people had loved ones who did not make it home from World War I or World War II, this tomb is the place where they can come to pay their respects. To be able to stand guard here is a privilege,” said Aujla.

“When I joined the forces and was sworn in, my unit welcomed me as a Sikh and said welcome to the family. There’s a lot of a brotherhood here,” he added.

Canada’s Tomb of Unknown Soldier is a war memorial which holds the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died in France during World War I.