On Parliament Hill, May 9, the National Day of Honour, Carleton Place Coun. Gary Strike collects signatures on one of his special flags, which was presented to General Thomas Lawson, Chief of Defense Staff.
(Article Credit: Tara Gesner)
On May 9, the National Day of Honour, Strike joined other Canadians on Parliament Hill in recognition and commemoration of Canada's military mission in Afghanistan. It was an opportunity to pay tribute to the 158 fallen, the sacrifices of the wounded, and the burden borne by military families.
"That day I decided to create one more flag to show support for our troops and for the fallen soldiers," Strike said."I went down to Parliament Hill and started collecting signatures on a six-foot flag that would hold up to 4,000 signatures.
"He began at 11 a.m. and finished three-and-a-half hours later. "However, I only had half of the flag done," Strike noted. "I only had about 2,000 signatures." With the assistance of Suzanne Lafleur, Department of National Defence, the local councillor was able to carry on his flag signature project during Defence Community Family Appreciation Days on May 31 and June 1 at Canadian Forces Base Up-lands.
"Suzanne lives in Carleton Place and she started the ball rolling," Strike said, "and without her, it would have been a lot more difficult." The completed flag (all 4,000 signatures) will be presented to General Thomas Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff. In an email to Lawson, Strike noted: "This flag was signed by many family members of soldiers that were injured or killed. This flag represents the heart and soul of the people that signed it."
Carleton Place resident and town councillor Gary Strike, middle, presents a Canadian Signature Flag to General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, left, at his office in National Defence headquarters in Ottawa July 3. Commander Daniel Bouchard, right, from Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa), helps to hold the flag.
(Photo Credit: Cpl. Pierre Habib)
On Thursday, July 3, I was invited to the Department of National Defence headquarters in downtown Ottawa, to present the Canadian Unity Signature Flag. It was created by close to 4,000 signatures or names of supporters in appreciation of the fallen and injured soldiers. Signatures were collected on Parliament Hill on the National Day Of Honour (May 4) and completed at the Defence Community Family Appreciation Days at Canadian Forces Base Uplands on May 31.
I arrived in the lobby at 1 p.m., a half hour early. An officer came down and met me, escorting me through the double set of security doors, up to the 19th (top) floor. We walked in to the waiting room outside of Chief of the Defence Staff, General Tom Lawson's office. There was close to 20 of his officers waiting to greet me. I talked to the photographer and he asked me if it was the last flag I was going to do and I told him that was a good question, I wasn't sure. I talked to several officers that I had dealt with during all of the arrangements.
General Lawson came out of his office, greeted me, and introduced me to his staff, one of which was from Carleton Place. He said that they were well aware of my work and support. They saw the signature flags in Afghanistan. He said that he saw me collecting signatures on the Hill and that they were very appreciative and would hang the flag in a prominent place in the building. Every officer in the room shook my hand and thanked me individually. I was overwhelmed by their sincere appreciation.