Veterans Voices of Canada’s annual Flags of Remembrance tribute is taking a different direction due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The regulations involving gatherings lead the ceremonies scheduled to be held at the tribute sites on Sept. 12 have been cancelled.
“We look at anywhere between 500 and 800 people attending these events and as much as we’re going to be optimistic and as much as we are going to think this is going to be dealt with pretty quickly we just found it was, at this point, probably the best thing to do,” said Al Cameron, founding CEO of Veterans Voices of Canada.
Despite the formal ceremonies being off the 128 flags will still fly in Centennial Park and on Highway 11 from Sept. 12 to Nov. 12.
Plaques of Honour are still available for sponsorship and they will still be presented at the end of the event.
This year, in result to the pandemic, existing frontline medical professionals will be displayed with the names of past or present military members and first responders along the flag line.
“These guys are putting themselves in harms way huge, in a different way, but in harms way and for 2020 we are going to offer people the opportunity to give honour and tribute to them,” explained Cameron of the medical personnel helping us through the pandemic.
He added the event has also undergone a temporary, but not legal, name change and will be referred to as Flags of Unity for 2020.
“Flags of Remembrance is all about standing strong, unity, solidarity, as well as a patriotic event and I think this is something that we need to do this year.”
People will still be able to walk the flag line on the shore Sylvan Lake and pay tribute in the fall, although the individual plaques will not be on the flagpoles.
Instead a single large plaque in the shape of a maple leaf will feature a list of all the names and be positioned at the head of the flag line to combat the issue of stolen and damaged plaques.
Cameron says this is going to be a tough year for everybody and thinks the well-known tribute will serve as a good morale booster.
Additionally, a single flag will fly along the usual flag line starting this week as a symbol of solidarity.
Those looking to sponsor a Plaque of Honour on behalf of a military, first responder or frontline medical hero can contact Al Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org.General donations can also be made at vetvoicecan.org.
“This is going to be a make or break year for a lot of things, including non-profit organizations,” said Cameron. “Help us keep this going because it is an important event.”