Members of the Central Saanich Lions Club are paying their respects to some of Canada’s war dead by sending nine dozen flags to Italy to be placed on the graves of servicemen who died overseas.
Lions member Mike Shoesmith says he came across someone living in Italy who is willing to take the flags and place them on grave markers in a Canadian military cemetery. The effort is known as Flags from Home and is run by Corrin Fraser, who planned at first to place flags at the Coriano Ridge War Cemetery. Shoesmith said that was the original destination for the locals’ flags as well, but donors have since sent Fraser enough flags for that site. The ones Central Saanich Lions send will be taken to other war cemeteries, — including one near the city of Ortona.
Ortona was the site of a battle between Canadian and German soldiers during the Second World War. More than 1,300 Canadian soldiers were killed, representing about a quarter of Canadian losses during the Italian campaign.
Shoesmith said the plan is to have the flags placed on the graves, paying respect to those who died during the war. He said he came across the contact in Italy via Facebook and got a great deal on the small flags from the Flag Shop downtown.
“I’m going to definitely run with it,” Shoesmith said of the project, adding he hopes to make contact with other people willing to bring the flags to military cemeteries during Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) activities.
The key to the effort, he said, will be to co-ordinate getting the flags to their destinations. That will also mean that the Central Saanich Lions Club will be seeking donations of flags in the future.