By Richard Lawrence
Allan Cameron started the Memories Recovered Project in 2005 as a tribute to his uncle, Perley Cameron, a veteran, to capture the stories of veterans before they were lost. In June 2011, it was rebranded Veterans Voices of Canada and has video documented the stories of over 1,000 veterans as history and education to be donated to schools, museums, and libraries across Canada.
In remembrance of every fallen or missing-in-action soldier from 1898 until today, Veterans Voices raises 128 Canadian flags, one for every 1,000 soldiers, or for 128,000 lost men/women. This is known as the Flags of Remembrance Ceremony and is held in several cities across Canada at the same time, all synchronized to the appropriate time zones. This is the first year in which Ottawa has participated and the flags raised today will stay in place until November 12.
At the rear of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, 128 makeshift flag poles were erected along the fence from the rear driveway towards the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway where, on October 1, at 1300 hours, the ceremony was held under a gray sky with blustery winds. Music was supplied by the Sons of Scotland Pipes and Drum and the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces Quintet while the military complement was supplied by Gatineau’s RCAC 2920 cadets.
The event was organized by the UN/NATO Veterans Canada organization in concert with Veterans Voices. The master of ceremonies, in speaking of UN/NATO Veterans Canada, noted that their mission is “to bring brothers and sisters in arms out from isolation. UN/NATO Canada gives Canadian soldiers a sense of belonging after retirement where too often some find themselves alone looking for ways to replace the lost camaraderie and overcome the feeling of being forgotten.”
Mark Taylor, Deputy-Mayor of Ottawa, spoke about the veterans experience noting that “It’s very easy to think that this is about the past but it’s not. This is about the present and it’s about the future and our veterans and our active service members and our cadets today are not just hallmarks of the past. They’re the guarantors of our future. Every day that we wake up and that there’s a tomorrow we can thank our veterans. And whether they’re acting to protect us in conflict and preserve people around the world, each and every one of our veterans, active service members, and cadets are ambassadors of Canada.”
After the speakers were finished, ten cadets plus ten veterans made their way to the flag poles and, ten at a time, one veteran and one cadet per flag pole, raised a Canadian flag in memory of 1,000 dead or missing Canadian soldiers. When they had completed raising all of the flags, they were joined by the last group of people who not only had flags to raise but plaques to attach to the poles in memory of loved ones. This concluded the ceremony for this year.
This year Veterans Voices is putting their fundraising efforts towards the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiing for the Winter Sports Clinic.