The Orange Institution has launched a commemorative flag to mark the centenary of the ending of the Great War.
The special Armistice tribute honours the service and sacrifice of both Orangemen and women who enlisted for King and country.
It is estimated that as many as 200,000 Orangemen from across the world served in the First World War, with many thousands seeing action at the Somme and other seminal battles on the front line. Many paid the supreme sacrifice.
The commemorative Union Flag features a distinctive centre piece logo, incorporating the Orange lily and poppy, synonymous with remembrance. A red hand inside a white shield also represents the sacrifice of members who served in various theatres of war.
Launching the war tribute, Edward Stevenson, grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said: “One hundred years later, we quite rightly remember with pride all those who served during the Great War.
“This new commemorative flag, specially commissioned by Grand Lodge, will serve as a visible and poignant tribute to all those who bravely and selflessly answered the call of duty.
“Fittingly, the flag combines the Orange lily and red poppy. Given the proud military pedigree and heritage of the institution, both flowers are symbolic of a generation lost in battle a century ago.”
Mr Stevenson added: “We owe each and every one of them an immense sense of gratitude and we are indebted to those who served with such distinction. This new flag salutes the bravery of all those who voluntarily chose to bear arms in the defence of the freedoms we enjoy, and take for granted, today.”
The commemorative flag unveiling comes ahead of the opening of a new ‘Service and Sacrifice’ exhibition, next month, at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.
Running until the end of the year, the exhibition will recognise and detail the contribution of the institution, and individual personalities, to the wider war effort.
Meanwhile, a drama based on the heroism of WWI soldier, and Orangeman, John Meeke, will take place in east Belfast next weekend.
‘Meeke and the Major’ recounts the battlefield rescue by the Ulster private of Irish nationalist and MP, Major Willie Redmond.
The play takes place at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland, Newtownards Road on Saturday March 10, commencing at 7pm.
To pre-order the commemorative WWI flag, priced £6 plus postage, contact Schomberg House on 028 9070 1122.