Field of Crosses to honour Vimy vets this year

More than 3,400 white crosses will be on display along Calgary’s Memorial Drive until Nov. 11, honouring the veterans and fallen soldiers of Southern Alberta

Now in it’s ninth year, the Field of Crosses Memorial Project has become an annual tradition for community members wishing to pay their respects to those who gave their lives for their country.

“It has become a Calgary staple,” said committee member, Laura Vandercruk, going on to say the display is important to the city, especially because it is temporary.

“It’s only up around Remembrance Day, so it really focuses people’s minds on exactly what we’re doing here.”

Vandercruk took the project on after the death of her father, George Bittman, who was head of the Poppy Trust Funds and helped to form the Field of Crosses Memorial Project.

“When he died, we wanted to carry on what he started, so we formed a committee, and every year this gets bigger and better.”

This year will feature tributes to the 100th anniversary of the Battle at Vimy Ridge.

There was to be a dedication honouring those soldiers and their families on Nov. 2, following the sunrise flag-raising.

“Vimy was a significant part of Canada’s history and it’s our duty to acknowledge what happened,” said David Howard, president of the Canadian Legacy Project, which helps support projects like the Field of Crosses.

Howard said people forget a lot of Canadian history because they are no longer learning about it in school.

“I was taught about Vimy when I was in grade school, but my daughter is seven and so far hasn’t learned anything about it.”

Rows of crosses: More than 3,400 white crosses on display for the ninth annual Field of Crosses Memorial Project running along Memorial drive in Calgary on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. The tribute is on display from Nov. 1 to 11, honouring southern Alta. soldiers who died in the line of duty. (Photo by Mitchell Danser/The Press)

Labels will be placed on all of the crosses of soldiers who died in that battle.

“When you look at the dates of when they were born and died, you’ll see that some of these soldiers were kids,” Howard said, adding that they lied about their age to join the war.

“It puts everything in perspective,” said Howard.

“It’s because of people like these, who gave their lives fighting for our country, that we’re able to have what we do today,” said volunteer co-ordinator Donna Wieckowski. Over 380 people are lending their time and support to the project this year.

“It’s just amazing,” said Wieckowski.

Each year, the project gets a wide variety of people coming to volunteer for different reasons.

It’s only up around Remembrance Day, so it really focuses people’s minds on exactly what we’re doing here. – Laura Vandercruk

“Many of our volunteers have no connection to anyone in the ceremony. They simply want to do their part in honouring our veterans and it’s a way of saying thank you.”

Veterans will also be involved with the raising and lowering of the flag at the sunrise and sunset ceremonies taking place each day while the installation is open.

“Even though there is a deep respect for our veterans in Canada, we don’t go around telling people how grateful we are.

“Quite frankly, the best thing you can do when you see a veteran, is simply say thank you for your service. You’ll see tears in the eyes of some, because many have never heard that,” Howard said.


About Mitchell Danser 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Mitchell Danser worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.