Waving the Invictus Games flag was a great honour for Red Deer’s Vince Martin.
The Invictus Games National Flag Tour stopped at the Red Deer Royal Canadian Legion (Branch No. 35) Wednesday afternoon, where Martin, a 10-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, got his hands on the flag.
“It makes me feel good knowing that people thought of me and gave me the honour to do this,” said Martin.
When the Legion was looking for a flag-bearer, they reached out to Martin, who has PTSD. He is one of 150 flag-bearers nationwide, as the tour makes its way across the country ahead of the Invictus Games in Toronto on Sept. 23.
The games are an international paralympic-style multi-sport event for wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel.
The athletes who compete in the games are heroes, Martin said
“To see these athletes who have lost limbs and they can push forward and compete in these games, it kind of inspires me,” he said.
Being able to host a stop for the tour was a great honour for the Red Deer Royal Canadian Legion, said branch president Bev Hanes.
The Invictus Games provide a great opportunity for the competing veterans, she added.
“Everybody in society should have the chance to do things everyone else can … it’s really good for them to be able to take part (in the games),” Hanes said.
The tour has been going for just one week, but so far the response has been great, said Invictus Games chief marketing manager Steve Wallace.
“I continue to be amazed at the support Canadians have for the military,” said Wallace. “The stories we’re hearing that people are sharing about their own challenges and overcoming adversity — that’s what gets me excited.”
Both Martin and Jeanne Ross, who handed the flag to Martin at the Legion, had huge smiles on their faces Wednesday, which is what the games are all about, Wallace said.
“Having a couple flag-bearers here in Red Deer who were proud and honoured to carry that spirit of the games Prince Harry created is a special moment for them,” he said.
Only 15 Legions across the country will be sites for the tour’s stops, said Red Deer-Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen, who spoke at the stop in Red Deer.
“I know there’s a great sense of pride here for our Legion,” said Dreeshen. “It’s an honour for me to be here and to welcome the Invictus Games on behalf of a grateful nation.”
The flag will make its way north to Edmonton Thursday, before heading east the following day.