Paying respect

Heading into a season of remembrance coupled with the recent deaths of two Canadian soldiers makes a recently-installed row of Canadian flags along Hwy. 11 that much more meaningful.

Central Albertans can view the flags, which were erected by Sylvan Lake’s Allan Cameron of Veterans’ Voices until Nov. 15th. It’s a poignant reminder of patriotism, sacrifice and remembrance of those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. This year is also important as it marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.

There are 116 flags that line the highway going south – each flag representing 1,000 soldiers who have died in conflicts over the years. It’s a very emotional sight, and with all that this country has witnessed over the past week, all the more so.

The two men recently killed were Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, a soldier for 28 years who had been considering retirement. The other was Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist from Hamilton. Vincent, 53, was the victim of a targeted hit and run in Quebec and Cirillo was shot and killed at his post by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa.

In light of these tragedies, it was comforting to see the unity that surfaced across the nation in the days following, and that still continues. International support was also strongly felt. These kinds of events are not something that Canadians are used to – so the impact was felt that much more intensely. People talk about how Canada has lost something of an innocence, but sadly this kind of tragedy is something that we simply are not immune to any longer with the building war on terrorism. All the more disturbing is the emergence of the ‘lone wolf’ type of terrorist – where there is no predictability. How can a society guard itself against this type of violence?

Over the days following the shooting in Ottawa, it was heartening to see citizens refuse to stay away from that area of the City. Many commented on how they would not allow these kinds of acts to keep them from their day-to-day routines because that would show those responsible that they had somehow ‘won.’

Here at home, residents can honour not only these two brave men who we’ve lost, but the countless lives that have been lost over the many years in conflicts and wars around the world. We really couldn’t be more proud to be Canadians, and to have a man like Cameron plan and execute such a powerful project like the flags speaks to that sense of pride we take in our country, and in the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedom.