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Project honours Alberta veterans with roadside memorial banners

Alberta veterans are being remembered and honoured as part of a special project creating individual banners showcasing men and women who served the country.

Banners in small towns like Didsbury are being installed on light posts in run up to Remembrance Day

Surviving Second World War veterans Bill Jepps, who served in the Royal Canadian Navy, and Curtis Munro, who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, are honoured in their hometown of Didsbury with banners that will be displayed on light posts in the town as part of a project spreading across Alberta and Canada. (Grant Hemming)

Alberta veterans are being remembered and honoured as part of a special project creating individual banners showcasing some of the men and women who served the country.

Driving into Didsbury, Alta. along the town's 20th Avenue, light posts now feature banners which include old black and white images of local veterans, along with their name and the branch they served with.

The same project is being adopted by towns and cities across Alberta and Canada, coinciding this year with the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. 

Didsbury and other towns – including High River, Okotoks and Drumheller – will now install the banners every September and remove them after Remembrance Day.

The banners are sponsored by veterans' friends and family members and their names also appear on the memorials.

Project coordinator Grant Hemming says the banners are a great way to recognize and honour local veterans in the run up to Remembrance Day. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

"We will consider any person that has served Canada in the forces in peace or in conflict, so it isn't just World War 2," said project coordinator Grant Hemming, who first read about the program in a magazine in 2018 and decided to organize something similar in Didsbury.

"We're losing our veterans and if we don't remember our history we're destined to repeat it. It's important to remember who these people were," Hemming said.

"It's a whole other era of their life. They're certainly proud of the project but it's a part of their lives that is long ago and while it's not celebrated, it is remembered."

The project has close ties to the town's museum, where surviving veterans and families gathered in September to mark the start of the project and see the finished banners for the first time.

"It's really important to capture this moment in time because we do have a couple of veterans left from World War 2 and a lot of veterans' families here in town," said Dawn Stewart, vice president of the Didsbury and District Historical Society.

These banners are sponsored by local veterans’ families and are displayed around the town of Didsbury, Alta. The project is spreading across Canada. (Grant Hemming)

"The day we launched at the museum it was very emotional. I got to sit back and watch it unfold and how important it is to them," Stewart said.

"It's really important that we honour what these veterans did for our country."

"People are curious about the project and about the vets stories themselves and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive," Stewart said.

The banners will be stored at the Didsbury Museum after Remembrance Day, but won't be on public display.

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