Flags were placed on dozens of graves at Alto Rest Cemetery on Friday in advance of Saturday ceremonies. (Photo by Mary-Ann Barr/Advocate staff)

Decoration Day honours veterans who have passed away

Two short ceremonies scheduled at Red Deer cemeteries

The Red Deer Legion will participate in a national campaign on Saturday to honour veterans who have passed away by placing Canadian flags at their graves.

Red Deer Legion president Bev Hanes said Decoration Day was resurrected about three years ago locally. In advance of the event at two local cemeteries, and because there are so many graves, graves were pre-decorated with small flags on Friday.

Years ago, when there weren’t as many graves, volunteers would make and place a small bouquet at each grave, she said. The flags are placed on graves or cremation sites of veterans, including military, RCMP and emergency responders. Hanes said they had 1,000 flags to place at Alto Reste Cemetery and Red Deer Cemetery.

The public is invited to visit any cemetery and reflect on the life of a veteran buried there, Hanes said, who also encouraged people to put a flag on the graves of their veteran relatives before July 1.

Decoration Day recognizes veterans across Canada. It began on June 2, 1890, as a form of protest for the Battle of Ridgeway veterans who felt that their contributions to the protection of Canada were overlooked by the government. Veterans placed decorations at the Canadian Volunteers Monument in Toronto on the anniversary of the battle. There were 30,000 participants in 1891, the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Ridgeway.

Decoration Day became an annual event and participants grew to include veterans of the Fenian Raids, the North-West Rebellion, the Second Boer War, and the First World War.

On Saturday there will be a short ceremony at Alto Reste Cemetery at 11 a.m. and then at Red Deer Cemetery at 11:45 a.m. The Legion invites the public to join them.

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