Legion Branch 47 joins Flags of Remembrance tribute

GRAND ANSE: A local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is taking part in a unique act of honour and helping to raise funds for the grieving family of a veteran in the process.

St. Peter’s Legion Branch 47 is sponsoring four plaques of honour as part of the “Flags of Remembrance” tribute at the Open Hearth Park in Sydney, one of six sites across Canada to host the event.

The initiative is the primary fundraiser for “Veterans Voices of Canada,” a non-profit organization that documents the stories of veterans from across the country.

The Flags of Remembrance project is designed to pay tribute to military veterans, RCMP and, this year for the first time, first responders, by raising 128 flags, to represent the 128,000 Canadian military personnel and RCMP members killed or missing in action since the Boer War. Each flag is accompanied by a Plaque of Honour.

In sponsoring four plaques of honour – at a cost of $250 each – the members of Branch 47 opted to put the names of all their veterans in a hat and put four names forward for the flag and plaque presentation.

The funds came from the branch’s poppy fundraising, a particular challenge in recent years due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year legion members hosted drive through poppy sales in St. Peter’s and in Louisdale and continued the practice of placing sales baskets in stores.

With the funding in place, plaques were prepared in tribute to Sgt. Arnold Chamberlain who served from 1940-1945; Trooper Roy O’Melia, who served from 1942-1944; Corporal John L Landry who served from 1942-46; and Corporal Charles Williamson who served from 1971-1977.

“It’s a way of recognizing their sacrifice,” says Branch 47 president George McPhee of the flags and maple leaf plaques on display in Sydney.

“On November 12 they’re going to take them down and when they take them down they send them to us and we present them to the families.”

This is not the first time the branch has contributed to the Flags of Remembrance tribute. Previously two plaques were sponsored in honour of the branch’s World War II veterans Stewart MacDonald and Wilfred Barrett. Both former servicemen have since passed away.

Half of all proceeds from this year’s Flags of Remembrance tribute in Sydney will go towards assisting the family of the late Warrant Officer (retired) James “Jim” Fletcher who, along with his daughter Shellie Fletcher-Lemieux and two grandchildren (Jackson, 14, and Emma, 10), was killed in a collision with an alleged drunk driver in Quebec in early September.