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'Putting the faces of veterans across the city' (5 photos)

Veterans banner project started small last year; RCL Branch 25 wants more of them hoisted from March to Dennis Streets in October and November 2022

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 plans to line Queen Street with banners honouring veterans in advance of local Remembrance Day ceremonies on Nov. 11, 2022.

“Our goal is to put the faces of veterans and serving personnel across the city,” said Helen Stewart, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 president.

Four banners honouring Sault and area veterans were produced and hoisted for display, with the help of PUC Services, on downtown street light poles - three beside Canada Post, another to the east of the Cenotaph - honouring Canadian and British veterans in the days leading up to Remembrance Day in November 2021.

“This year we hope to line Queen Street in its entirety with banners but the starting point will be between March and Dennis Streets to encompass the Cenotaph and GFL Memorial Gardens in anticipation of our march on Remembrance Day,” Stewart said.

The banners will be displayed between Oct. 1 and Nov. 12. Branch 25 is working in cooperation with the Downtown Association and PUC Services.  

The banners can not only recognize Sault and area veterans, but also those from across Canada and the Commonwealth.

“(Last year) there were Royal Air Force and Royal Navy veterans banners,” Stewart said.

Stewart said Branch 25 was inspired to start a veterans banner project for the Sault by similar projects launched by Legion branches in Aurora and Uxbridge.

“We thought about this a couple of years ago, but never got it going, so we felt this is the year to start doing it,” Stewart told SooToday. 

“There can be four pictures per banner. You can get family and friends or a corporate sponsor together to commemorate all those past and present military members,” Stewart said.

“These are a great way to honour our past and present veterans and currently serving military personnel. If you have a father, son, daughter, granddaughter, grandson, brother, sister or friend that you wish to honour in this way, please feel free to contact us."

Stewart said individuals, families, friends or corporate sponsors can send photos of veterans in JPG format along with the veteran’s name and service unit to Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 by email on or before April 1.

The cost of each banner, including taxes and installation, is $200. 

If a sponsor pays for a banner, the name of the sponsor will be at the bottom of the banner. 

The $200 cost for a banner is good for two years. In the third year, there will be a $100 charge but it will be good for another two year period.

Families will be able to take their banner home (after Remembrance Day) and return it the following year if they wish. 

If a new banner is needed, then the cost would revert to the original.

The banners are made of heavy vinyl with lettering on both sides.

Branch 25’s banner project would be like that in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where banners honouring U.S. veterans are displayed all year on street light poles along West Portage Avenue, Ashmun Street and East Water Street.

“We’ve had them up for a couple of years,” said Don Gerrie, Sault Michigan mayor, encouraged that Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 wants to start a similar project for Canadian and Allied veterans.

The City of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan entered into an agreement to display U.S. veterans banners on street light poles in cooperation with History of Hometown Heroes and the Chippewa County Community Foundation.

The History of Hometown Heroes banner project was launched in 2018 to honour Sault Michigan and area veterans, a portion of the funds raised from each banner sold going back to supporting U.S. veterans organizations.

Community support for that project was strong, with more than 420 banners sold not long after the initiative began.

“I think they’re beautiful,” said Helen Stewart of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 of the Sault Michigan veterans banners.

Stewart said she and her Legion comrades would like to see veterans banners on display along Queen Street year round, but that would conflict with banners used for Downtown Association events.