Once again the Veterans Voices of Canada Flags of Remembrance line the side of Highway 11 following a ceremony held on Saturday at Meadowlands Golf Club.
The immense showing of patriotism took place at precisely 12 p.m. MST alongside several other communities across the country.
The initiative, which began in 2014 alongside Highway 11 has grown from a local remembrance initiative aiming to honour and pay tribute to the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces to a country wide movement of national pride.
The flags are erected along major roadways in participating communities, representing the 116,000 Canadian soldiers lost in armed conflict from the Boer War to the present, as well as the 12,000 soldiers Missing in Action. Each flag is accompanied by a plaque recognizing and honouring individual veterans.
This year’s Flags of Remembrance saw ceremonies taking place in nine communities across Canada including three locations in Alberta, two in Ontario and one in British Columbia, New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia respectively.
This annual event also serves as Veterans Voices of Canada’s primary fundraiser. All monies raised through the Flags of Remembrance is used to fulfill the mandate of the organization: interviewing veterans, transcribing interviews, burning and disseminating DVDs. In locations where Veterans Voices has teamed up with a local non-profit organization, local funds raised are shared evenly between Veterans Voices of Canada and that organization.
Mayor of Sylvan Lake, Sean McIntyre was in attendance at Saturday’s Flags of Remembrance ceremony where he took a moment to thank the many volunteers who have made the initiative possible over the last three years.
“I want to take a moment to recognize all of the volunteers behind the Veterans Voices of Canada organization for turning what has been a day of Remembrance to a season of Remembrance honouring the service men and women in Canada,” said Mayor McIntyre. “I am so grateful for their contributions and so proud to call them friends.”
Don MacIntyre, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, spoke following Mayor McIntyre where he touched on the impact Veterans Voices of Canada and the Flags of Remembrance has had on not only Sylvan Lake but the country of Canada as a whole.
“It’s becoming a movement across this great nation of ours,” said MLA MacIntyre. “I can see a day when this sort of event is held in every community right across our country to honour those men and women who have given their all in the service of our nation to keep Canada strong and free.”
“May we never forget what they have done for us and I believe this movement is going to go a long way in fixing something that lacked from generation to generation and that is that our young people don’t know – they don’t know the stories.”
He added he feels the work Veteran’s Voices of Canada with their documentation of veterans will ensure future generations have access to the stories of veterans.
“I believe it will stand in time as an enormous heritage and something that we can pass on to our children so they can know the sacrifices that have been made in order for them to be able to enjoy their freedom,” said MacIntyre. “Again, I want to say a huge thank you to the many veterans here today, God bless each and every one of you. They are mighty men, mighty women and we are mighty proud.”
One of the veterans in attendance at the Flags of Remembrance ceremony was retired Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, who lost both legs in Afghanistan.
”These flags represent 128,000 from 1867 who were killed or missing in action during World War I, World War II, Korea, peacekeeping missions, Afghanistan and now Iraq,” said Master Cpl. Franklin. “I want to thank everyone who made it out today and in summary I just really want to say thank you to everyone who came out today and made the sacrifice to be here.”
This year’s ceremony placed a special emphasis on remembering and honouring first responders, police officers, fire fighters and paramedics.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is for your first responders to be noted and to be helped,” added Franklin.