Sylvan Lake’s Flags of Remembrance tribute site witnessed ravage following the Sept. 11 ceremony, leaving three flags and two plaques stripped and stolen.
Founder of Veterans Voices of Canada and the Flags of Remembrance, Al Cameron, shared in a Sept. 17 video posted on Facebook, “Our security…out of Red Deer notified us that there are a couple of flags missing, so I came down and not only are there three flags missing, but there are two plaques missing, and these flags, they are actually zip-tied and taped on. So, there is no way these can come off. These flags have strings and each of these flags that are gone, they were cut.” He added, “The actual strings were cut off of the flags. So, they didn’t fall off, somebody actually went above and beyond by cutting the flags off of the poles.”
Brimming with anger, frustration and sorrow, Cameron said that he is disappointed, to say the least. “Because of what this represents, it’s actually disrespecting those that these Flags of Remembrance is an honoured tribute to. It’s frustrating at the same time, because myself, all of my volunteers, and community appreciate this. We also put a lot of time and energy and effort into making these events happen. So, when they are so disrespectful in this way, it’s very frustrating, it’s maddening, and it is theft in the end, and it is desecration of a commemoration tour of veterans and our first responders. I run into this every year to certain levels at all of my sites,” he added.
“We are just asking for the community to be watchful. If you see anything out of the ordinary happening, just contact the RCMP or police. But aside from that, we just wish that everybody would visit the site, appreciate it, read those names, respect it, do not tamper with it, and do not swing on the flags,” said Cameron, adding, “Whoever is doing this, guys, smarten up! That’s all I can say.”
Another set of 128 flags have been put up at Sylvan Lake’s original tribute site on Sept. 18 at Highway 11/Range Road 12 (N). Cameron said that the display also consists of the National Indigenous Flag, the Afghanistan Killed In Action Commemoration Flag, Alberta provincial flag and a Sponsorship flag depicting local support.
“That basically is the area where we started Flags of remembrance back in 2014. It’s a very visible area and people miss it if we don’t put it there. So, we’ve been asked to continue to put it on the highway and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” said Cameron. “We used to put plaques of honour on the highway flags, but because it was very dangerous, people were stopping in the middle of the highway, on the side of the highway, it’s a very highly travelled area and there are high speeds on the highway. So, we wanted to take those plaques and put them at the waterfront, so that people could walk the flag line, stop and visit those flag lines and read those names in safety,” he added.
Cameron asks interested individuals to reach out to him to sponsor a plaque of honour, at firstname.lastname@example.org. He said that this fundraising not only supports the Veteran Voices of Canada, but also two local veterans. Cameron hopes to see all plaques of honour (about 50) sponsored in time for Remembrance Day.
Veterans Voices of Canada’s Flags of Remembrance tribute sites include Sylvan Lake, Lacombe, Windsor (ON), Dunnville (ON), Philipsburg (QC) and Sydney (NS).