One hundred and sixteen flags are currently lining Hwy. 11 near Sylvan Lake in honour of Canadian soldiers who have lost their lives. The Flags of Remembrance will be on display until Nov. 15th. Each flag represents 1,000 Canadian war dead.
“I had people coming over to me and shaking my hand and saying thank you – it blows me away,” said Allan Cameron, founding executive director of Veterans Voices of Canada, who spearheaded The Flags of Remembrance project. “When I thought about this and I envisioned it, I thought there was no way people would not see this. The idea was to get people to stop and to think and it’s done that. I knew it was going to happen, but when it happens, it makes you think wow. It is quite amazing and it gives you that warm feeling.”
Cameron had the idea for the project about three years ago. “First and foremost this is a tribute and I wanted to make it a campaign for Veterans Voices of Canada as well. It’s part of Veterans Voices of Canada and it’s another aspect of our remembering. Veterans Voices of Canada is all about historical interviews and documentation with veterans. This is another part of us trying to give back to our past, present and future serving veterans.”
The flags have been supplied by MPs, MLAs and senators across Canada. The Flags of Remembrance has been planned for a number of months, but in light of last week’s events in Ottawa and Quebec which saw two Canadian soldiers killed (Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo), Cameron said the timing couldn’t be more significant. “I call it ‘sad timing’,” he said.
“If these flags going up brings people together, brings Canadians together and brings the world together, it’s a great thing and that makes me happy. These flags represent Canada, they represent remembrance and us pulling together as a nation. If Cirillo and Vincent are looking down on us now, they would be quite proud of what we’re doing as Canadians pulling together.”
On Nov. 15th at noon, a closing ceremony for the Flags of Remembrance will be held. “These flags are sponsored by business and by individuals. As people sponsor these flags what we want to do is get them to give us a name and information about a veteran, about a hero that they know about. We will put that information on a plaque. These maple leaf-shaped plaques will be placed on the flag poles in the next few days,” said Cameron. “We invite them to come along to the closing ceremony, the flags and plaques will come down and we will present the plaques and flags to that family member or a representative of that family.”
Cameron’s hope is to have the Flags of Remembrance every year in every province beginning next year.
“We want to give every town and every area in Canada an opportunity to take part in this and to show their community pride as well.”