The Field of Crosses Memorial Project this year holds more than 3,000 crosses to honour fallen soldiers.
In the run-up to Remembrance Day, white crosses in rows line Sunnyside Bank Park, on Memorial Drive N.W., just west of the Centre Street Bridge.
The installation, which will remain in place until Nov. 12, is designed to show that Canadians’ freedom did not come without a price.
Now in its eighth year, the Field of Crosses honours the soldiers from Southern Alberta who lost their lives fighting for Canada in the last century.
It has become an important place for many Calgarians to make their annual act of remembrance.
“One of the things that is interesting about the project is that we bring kids in to sing O Canada and we host them at the Legion so they get to sit down with veterans and learn first hand,” David Howard, the president of the Canadian Legacy project and one of the directors for the Field of Crosses Memorial Project, said in a recent interview.
The inspiration for displaying the crosses came from Calgary businessman Murray McCann, who was touched by how the community of Menlo, Georgia, with a population of less than 500, honoured those of their community who had been killed overseas.
“I realized how blessed I am to live my life in freedom due to the multitude of Canadian soldiers who have given their lives for our freedom,” said McCann.
“I contacted my friend George Bittman, with the idea of building a cross for every soldier form Southern Alberta who had lost their lives fighting for our freedom,” said McCann in an interview.
Bittman is the head of the Calgary Poppy Fund, which organizes poppy sales each year, for Remembrance Day.
Bittman, on behalf of the fund, helped McCann bring his idea to life.
More than 200 volunteers along with members of the Canadian Army Veterans Ypres 3 CAV helped with all cross set up and will do the take down on the park’s five acre lot.
Volunteers also help with the organization of day-to-day events at the Field of Crosses.
Howard said it used to take two days to set all the crosses up, but with the volunteer team, the installation can be completed in a morning.
Howard said that on Nov. 11, a Remembrance Day ceremony will be held at the site. It will be a family friendly event and the CF-18s of the Canadian Forces perform two flyovers.
The Field of Crosses Memorial Project holds private ceremonies for the families of fallen soldiers every morning at sunrise and every evening at sunset. There is also a flag-raising ceremony and a flag lowering ceremony each day.
Parking is available at the city pay lot just west of the park, on the north side of Memorial Drive.
Row on Row: Calgary businessman Murray McCann poses for a portrait at the Field of Crosses in Calgary on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. More than 3000 crosses have been placed to honour fallen Southern Alberta soldiers. Crosses are displayed each fall until Nov. 12, 2016. (Photo by Callie Hermanson/The Press)