By TOM GODFREY
I have a Canadian flag hanging outside my home that I am proud of.
It was installed more than 10 years ago to recognize several of my friends who were at the time fighting overseas with the Canadian Armed Forces. Luckily, they made it home safely.
Our iconic red-and-white flag means a lot to all Canadians, many who proudly celebrated Flag Day and the 50th anniversary of our Canadian Flag last Sunday, on February 15.
It is great to see our flag being recognized as it should, to help us remember our roots and history. To many times, we see flags representing little-known countries or lifestyles hanging outside City Hall.
There were celebrations to mark the day in other provinces, Ottawa and across the GTA as Canadians paused to salute or say a quick prayer for long-gone friends or family. Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau were in Mississauga marking the event.
In south Etobicoke, about 200 people braved -25 degree temperatures for an outdoor party and to dedicate a hand-drawn Maple Leaf mural painted on a wall.
There was free food, hot drinks and games at the Canada Flag Day Winter Carnival, which featured local politicians, short speeches and entertainers who braved the chill.
There was even a large cake adorned as a huge Canadian flag that was cut into more than 100 slices for eager party goers.
A few veterans were milling around in a show of support and to remember their colleagues who fell in far-off lands while defending our flag.
Many of our Royal Canadian Legion Halls were busy as the remaining vets, both men and women, raised a pint to the many brave heroes who gave (and those who continue to give) their lives for our beloved Maple Leaf.
Credit must also go to the many volunteers involved in keeping alive the values and institutions that form our country, which has such a long and rich history. Our young people must be reminded of the struggles and adversity many had to endure to forge this nation.
“This is a major milestone and we want people across the country to celebrate our flag,” said organizer Chris Korwin-Kuczyniski, of a February 15th Committee. “We want people to be proud that it is the 50th anniversary of our flag.”
Korwin-Kuczyniski has links to the military and knows firsthand of many valiant Canadians who died in battle.
He has been working to get residents and businesses in the area involved in the celebrations and to pass on our rich history to young people.
Choosing the Maple Leaf was not an easy task and it took us as a nation a long time to decide and finalize out flag.
The Maple Leaf was raised on February 15, 1965 for the first time on Parliament Hill.
In 1996, the date was declared National Flag of Canada Day and has been observed since.
After World War I and again after World War II, the Government of Canada discussed the importance of our country in having its own flag.
In 1964, the Government made the creation of a Canadian flag a priority as the 1967 centennial celebration of Confederation was approaching. When Parliament could not reach agreement on the design, a committee was formed to find one.
After considering thousands of proposals for flags submitted by Canadians, the committee chose three final designs.
The winning flag was selected because of its simplicity. It was easily recognizable; it used Canada’s official national colours and the Maple Leaf was a symbol of Canadian pride and identity. Our troops and athletes used the leaf as an emblem on their uniforms when representing our country abroad.
God Bless our Maple Leaf as we forge another 50 years of history.