A grey, dreary looking rainy day made the ceremony a more solemn occasion.
Unlike the inaugural Flags of Remembrance last year, the weather last Saturday for this year’s event was more in keeping with what many of Canada’s war veterans experienced on the battlefields, according to organizers from the Ponoka Royal Canadian Legion branch and Veteran Voices of Canada (VCC).
“We were very pleased with the turnout on a wet and cool day that was fairly like what many experienced during wartime,” stated Legion past-president Stan Orlesky.
With more than 100 people showing up, Orlesky stated it was great to see all of the flags going up at nearly the same time at an event that is relatively new, with Ponoka now in its second year.
“Everybody knows what is done on Nov. 11 and the time set aside for the two minutes of silence,” Orlesky added.
“The Flags of Remembrance is certainly not a replacement, but is being done in conjunction with Remembrance Day.”
The nationwide event, which now has nine different communities participating, is in its third year and is about paying tribute to the 128,000 Canadian men and women in the armed forces who have been lost or listed as missing in action between the Boer War (a conflict in South Africa from 1899-1902) and the present day.
In Ponoka, that translates into the 128 Canadian flags that line the Centennial Park fence alongside Highway 2A that will remain standing until after Remembrance Day.
Orlesky stated it was also wonderful to see so many young people helping out at the event.
“To see all of those youth, that’s what it is all about — getting them to continue with the recognition of the courage that all those Canadians have displayed in order for us to have what we have now,” he said.
For the VVC, the event is the latest project that is helping draw attention to, and further educating the public, on the contributions of Canadian veterans.
Harold Lowe of VVC explained that Flags of Remembrance is a fundraiser for the group, with funds also going to local organizers, so it can continue its mission to maintain a historical record for the future.
“We’ve been working on speaking to veterans and recording them to make an archive of their stories and our history of the sacrifices made for use in educating the generations to come,” Lowe stated.
“This project has been in the works for about a decade in order to give people the ability to reflect on the service our veterans provided. Unfortunately now, a lot of those stories have disappeared and soon there will be no voices left.”
Lowe pointed to the death about six years ago of the last Canadian veteran of the First World War as a lost opportunity to teach people about what they went through.
“That’s the type of history that’s gone now and why we are recording veterans stories, to provide a visual and very stirring reminder of how this great nation and those veterans made their contribution.”