Nanaimo, British Columbia — The Vancouver Island Military Museum (VIMM) is displaying a City of Nanaimo flag as part of an exhibition on Afghanistan. The exhibit is the culmination of a year-long project initiated by Will Frankling, co-ordinator of the VIMM educational programs.
Frankling organized what came to be known as Operation NANAIMO-GRAM (Greetings Recognizing Armed Forces Members in Afghanistan), an initiative to send deployed troops a city flag covered with signatures and greetings.
Interactive support project
Frankling saw this as an interactive project to let Nanaimo residents show their support to deployed troops while reminding them of the sacrifices made by Canadian Forces (CF) personnel.
“I realize that most soldiers think they are just doing their job. Our project was about communication, and that goes two ways,” explains Frankling. “In times of war, it is also important that folks back home hear that the deployed soldiers are well and safe. I’m glad we could do that for Nanaimo. Just imagine if every city in Canada sent a flag!”
“Thank you for all your support,” Captain Francesca Scorsone writes to Frankling in an e-mail from Camp Nathan Smith. “It really means a lot to the men and women of the Canadian Forces to know that there are so many Canadians at home who are thinking of us and supporting us.”
A second City of Nanaimo flag was sent for troops to sign and circulate at various CF bases in Afghanistan.
“We also put the other flag you sent us in one of our Chinooks and went on an operation with it,” Capt Scorsone explains in her email. “It has now been signed. [Your support] really meant a lot to us. I can’t tell you how much it made everyone smile.”
Frankling hopes that offering encouragement to troops overseas through Operation NANAIMO-GRAM will give a new perspective to younger generations, initiating ongoing discussion and admiration for Canada’s military.
“We will continue to expand our Afghanistan exhibit,” says Frankling. “Showing what [the] Canadian Forces are doing [in Afghanistan] makes our military relevant to the next generation.”
For more information, look up Operation NANAIMO-GRAM on Facebook or visit the City of Nanaimo website.
Article by Jacquelyn Folville, Army News, Ottawa
Photos by CF Chaplain Capt Francesca Scorsone, 2 CMBG