Vista of veterans to deck downtown

Banner project honours Columbia Valley veterans through to Remembrance Day

Invermere is paying its respects to veterans of the Columbia Valley in a unique new way this fall.

Large banners featuring Columbia Valley veterans will soon dot the downtown landscape leading up to Remembrance Day. The program pays tribute to veterans, both living and deceased, who have called the Columbia Valley home. The veterans include those who served in the Boer War, the first and second World Wars and the Korean War. The banners are two-sided, with a total of 74 veterans featured.

It was while back east on a trip that Elinor Florence, a local author with a deep interest in veteran’s stories, first heard about a veteran’s banner project.

“This program began in the Maritimes and has spread to several Ontario towns,” she explained. “It is now catching on in Western Canada as well.”

The project came together thanks to the hard work of Ms. Florence, Sandi Jones, Jerry McLeod, Dee Conklin, Dorothy Isted, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 71 of Invermere, and the District of Invermere. The banners were sponsored by the families of the veterans and by the two local First Nations bands to honour band members who served.

“The banners were sold out very quickly after the program was first announced in the Pioneer last December,” Ms. Florence said. “Since then, many long hours of volunteer time have brought the concept into reality.”

Ms. Florence said it surprised her how eager families were to honour their families. The volunteers started with a list at the Windermere Valley Museum and began to reach out to interested families early this year. Ms. Florence said there was so much interest, she could have easily filled more banners. The project was limited by the number of light poles with installation hardware found in Invermere’s downtown core.

“I couldn’t have done this without Sandi Jones of Invermere, who spent countless hours gathering photographs and information from family members,” explained Ms. Florence.

Ms. Jones said she felt very honoured to have been a part of the project. Not only did she gather information and photographs, her family also sponsored three of the banners for veterans in their own family. “I am proud of my Dad, Carl Jones, my aunt Alice Palmason and three uncles Corky Mitchell, Bud Cleland and Jack Jones that all served during World War II,” described Ms. Jones. “They were all from Invermere and returned here after the war. All of their banners will be displayed. I am excited and look forward to the day that they will be displayed. The pride I feel, I know, is also felt by the family members that sponsored a banner.”

Ms. Jones said while the project took many more hours than anticipated, “there was never a moment of regret. I am thankful that Elinor asked if I would be willing to help with the project. I am pleased that the banners will pay tribute to some of the amazing men and women from our valley that fought for our freedoms. I respect the veterans for fighting for our peace and freedom and I respect the families that are honouring the veterans that went to war.”

The banners will be going up this October, leading up to Remembrance Day, every year for the next five years.

“I hope that valley residents will take the opportunity to walk down the street and look into the face of each individual veteran, and remember his or her contribution to our country,” Ms. Florence remarked.

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