April 19th, 2024

‘It symbolizes what we stand for’: Legion marks National Flag Day

By Lethbridge Herald on February 15, 2024.

Members of the RCMP Veterans Association replace the Canadian flag during a National Flag Day ceremony Thursday at the Royal Canadian Legion General Stewart Branch. Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Royal Canadian Legion General Stewart Branch celebrated Flag Day Thursday with a ceremony where a delegation of the RCMP Veterans Association replaced the current flag. 

On Feb. 15, 1965 the Canadian flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill and the following year Feb. 15 was declared National Flag Day. 

Glenn Miller, co-chair of public relations for the Legion General Stewart Branch No. 4, said Legions across the country, along with other institutions, recognized National Flag Day, as well. 

“Something that Canadians always think of; July 1 is Canada Day, but often this day slips by, so we want to recognize that day,” said Miller “It’s very important. The flag is a symbol of the Legion, as well, and also very important to veterans.” 

He said the coffins of veterans who died for their country are wrapped with the national flag, and it’s very important to them as a symbol of their ultimate sacrifice. 

“That symbol represents on the world stage, and in space our country; just by looking at that maple leaf flag,” said Miller. 

When asked about the flag being used in recent protests and the accompanying negative connotation, Miller said those who fought did it so people can have the freedom to make their own choices, including protesting. 

“That’s part of that liberty that we sometimes take for granted. As you know, around the world that liberty is not always extended.” 

He then shared a historical way a flag was used to recognize when someone was in distress hundreds of years ago. 

“A flag was turned upside down to show that you were in distress, so if a ship was coming up to a port, from a distance an upside-down flag was a sign of distress,” said Miller. “You can extrapolate that to a protest today. We’re distressed about something and depending on what that protest is aimed for, but for us we wear it with pride and treat it with respect every time.” 

Monique Petit, president of the General Stewart Branch No. 4, said for her the flag represents identity, the Canadian identity. 

“It’s a symbol that all of us recognize right off the hop,” she said. “We all know what it means, we all know that it symbolizes what we stand for.”

She said she hopes younger Canadians start to understand it as well, because for her it’s a matter of pride.

“When I see it overseas, when I see it at home, it beats to my heart, it makes me proud, and nothing much else makes me prouder than to realize I’m a Canadian.” 

She said she has been all over the world and being a Canadian was one of the most important things to her when traveling.

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