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Veteran banners put Langley in 'forefront of remembering'
The phrases say it all — "Lest We Forget" "Proud of Our Veterans" "Gratitude to Our Veterans" and "Honouring Our Veterans" — but it's the images themselves — dozens of portraits of Langley's service men and women, now on display for the whole community to see — that tell the real story.
Forty banners, featuring photographs of local veterans — both living and dead — raised last week, will hang along Fraser Highway and Douglas Crescent in the downtown core until Remembrance Day has passed.
The project, sponsored by the Downtown Langley Business Association and supported by the City of Langley, was the brainchild of photographer Brian Bury, who has been snapping the portraits for several years, as part of an effort to memorialize Langley's men and women who have served in the different branches of Canada's military.
As workers from Cobra Electric hung the translucent black banners on Thursday afternoon — watched by members of the Langley Legion Branch 21 — the impact was immediate.
"I think the Langley Merchants Association has just outdone themselves — these banners, I've never seen anything more spectacular," said Cmd. Walter Poustie.
"They've done themselves proud in what they've put up there," agreed Janice Poustie.
For some of the subjects, who still reside in Langley and are active members of the local Legion branch, it's a chance to be acknowledged by the community for their military service.
"Because we celebrate those that are gone on Remembrance Day, it's nice to see living faces," said Mayor Peter Fassbender, who joined the veterans and DLBA executive director Teri James on the sidewalk, not far from the new City cenotaph under construction in Douglas Park.
"Most of these people are citizens of Langley, and people that live in Langley know them. And when they come down the street and see these banners and recognize their neighbours and people they've known — words can't describe it," said Cmdr. Poustie.
For others, it may be a chance to pay last respects.
"The first one that went up was Alex Myscough, and he has been a long time participant in the legion, and a veteran, and he's very ill right now and we may lose him," said Janice Poustie.
"To see his face, for him to be the very first one up, it just makes you have goosebumps."
"And a tear in our eye," added Langley Legion president Gail Reid.
"It's been a very eventful day for us," said Reid. "What a year for us all."
The afternoon gathering made for a bright spot in what has been a challenging year for the Langley Legion, which moved from its long-time location as a cost saving measure, only to find itself still deep in debt and lacking widespread support from its membership.
The images are also a reminder," said Cmdr. Poustie, not just of battle, but of all the different types of service military veterans continue to provide.
"Through their efforts and dedication, they support youth programs ... working with post-traumatic stress disorder, training veterans who are now coming home to get back in the work force and to get their education upgraded. There are so many things veterans are responsible for."
The Langley Legion executives would love to see the banners serve as an inspiration to branches in other communities.
Asked where they would like to see this project go, their response was swift and simple: "Right across Canada."
But it's important to remember, said Cmdr. Poustie, that it all began here.
"This recognizes Langley as being in the forefront of remembering what we should be remembering."