Post by Stephen Cook. Stephen is a son of YEG and a newcomer to YOW. He currently studies journalism at Carleton University. Twitter/IG: @stephencooked
One hundred twenty-eight Canadian flags can be found along the runway fence of the Rockcliffe Airport, each one representing 1,000 Canadian soldiers killed or missing since the Boer War. The Flags of Remembrance display was planned by the non-profit Veteran Voices of Canada association and hosted by the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. It is one of 16 commemorative displays across Canada.
“I think it’s important for us to communicate [this] message to the public, for them to understand the significance of those flags and what they represent and the sacrifice of many of our soldiers,” said museum Director General Chris Kitzan during the opening ceremony.
“Sometimes we hear numbers, we get histories, we talk about nations, we talk about large groups of people, but it’s often the symbols that bring that message closer to home.”
“It’s a visual impact – very, very eye-catching,” said event co-ordinator Carole Morissette before the opening speeches in the museum’s theatre. Morissette is president of the local chapter of Veterans UN-NATO Canada, a private group of veterans that partnered with the VVoC to organize the event.
While approximately one in twelve Canadians served during World War II, a Veterans Affairs 2014 estimate set the number of living WWII veterans at 75,900 with an average age of 91. Meanwhile the total population of Canadian veterans still alive was just under 700,000 in a nation of over 35 million people.
VVoC records interviews with Canadian veterans all over the country and donates the video to schools, museums and libraries.
“I want to promote the veterans – their work, their stories, their sacrifice,” explained Morissette, having herself served 32 years in the Canadian Forces and seen deployments to Bosnia and Afghanistan.
Despite rainy weather, about two-dozen people attended the ceremony and outdoor unfurling on October 7. Sponsored “hero plaques” were placed at the base of some flags, honouring the military members of their sponsor’s choice.
Funds raised from the plaques will be split between the VVoC and an annual winter sports clinic for injured veterans and their families.
The event was co-ordinated with 15 other Flags of Remembrance ceremonies across Canada. The flags and accompanying plaques will remain along the Rockcliffe Airport runway fence until the closing ceremony on November 18.