Marked With Respect
Prince George, B.C.- About 100 volunteers turned out this afternoon to place a Canadian flag on each and every veteran’s grave in the Prince George Cemetery.“We have over a thousand, maybe as many as 12 hundred graves to mark” says Joe Elliot, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 43 executive.
The volunteers today included Scouts, Cubs, Beavers and their leaders, RCMP, Legion members, members of the general public and MLA Shirley Bond. who, like the others, quietly went about the task of locating the graves on the list she was given and placing a flag on those graves.
The list of veterans graves is growing “Every year, we find more” says Elliot as each year the Legion is made aware of another person who served who has either just passed, or their grave had not previously been included. “It’s not just veterans we are marking today” says Elliot as graves of former RCMP and First Responders are included in this flag event. “One of the main things in the Legion is to educate the general public and remembrance of the service our fellow Canadians have done” says Elliot.
While the placing of the flags is one way to pay respect, Elliot says there is an unintended result , as those driving past the cemetery on Highway 16 will experience the visual impact of today’s event, “When you see a sea of red and white flags, and then you realize how many veterans are buried here”.
It is already very personal for Neil Boyes.
A former weapons specialist with the Canadian Air force from 1980 to 2003, Boyes was responsible for bomb disposal. It was a task that has caused him to lose some of his hearing. Today, he, along with his Godson Jayden Brideau, were among the volunteers tasked with placing flags on veterans graves. “This is very important. I lost a lot of very good friends” says Boyes ” I lost a lot of very close team members, team mates. To see the community come out and rally like this ( to help place flags) is just amazing to see, all the young kids hopefully learning the next steps. This is a fabulous civic duty for them all.”
Joe Elliot says the Legion wants to know if there are others interred in the cemetery who should be honoured with a Canadian flag “If there is anyone in Prince George who knows there is a veteran buried here who may not be on the list, please let us know, we don’t want to miss anyone.”