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Field of Crosses blankets Memorial Drive to honour Alberta’s fallen soldiers

WATCH ABOVE: The field of crosses went up Saturday, honouring southern Alberta’s fallen soldiers. As Tracy Nagai reports, more than 3000 crosses are being erected this year, the splash of white a bold display.

CALGARY – They fought and paid with their lives.

This weekend Calgarians are making sure they’re not forgotten.

The field of crosses went up Saturday on Memorial Drive between 3rd Street N.W. and Centre Street, honouring southern Alberta’s fallen soldiers.

“As veterans, when we sign up for the military we sign a blank cheque that is payable to the people of Canada, up to and including the value of our life,” said Jim Welsh, Canadian Army veterans motorcycle units.

Each cross a soldier, someone with a family, a life, a person willing to die to help protect others.

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More than 3000 crosses are being erected this year, the splash of white a bold display.

“Thirty two hundred is a number until you see how many 3200 is,’ said Murray McCann, founder of field of crosses memorial project.

“We look across at this dynamic city and realize how fortunate we are because of those that gave up their lives,” said McCann.

Not far from the memorial, another reminder of the sacrifice soldiers are willing to make.

Veterans stand vigil to honour corporal Nathan Cirillo and warrant officer Patrice Vincent, both killed last year on Canadian soil.

With each cross driven in to the ground, a chance to connect, to remember.

“Over the last years we’ve even had young kids come by (and say), what is this? What’s this all about and we get to explain it to them,” said volunteer Tammy Hewitt.

“I think it’s important no matter what, everybody should remember why people died for our country and for helping others,” said volunteer Brenda Fowler.

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The crosses will stand until November 12th.

As quickly as they were erected, they will also be taken down.

“When people drive by and they see the number of crosses and they weren’t there yesterday and now they’re there it makes them think, it brings to light what the sacrifice was,” said Jim Welsh, president of Ypres 3rd CAV.

This is the 7th year the crosses have been erected. More than 100 volunteers took part in this annual ritual and paid their respects for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Sunrise and sunset ceremonies will begin November 1st.

It is estimated that more than 4,000 Southern Alberta men and women have been killed while serving in the Canadian military in combat or peace keeping missions.

The funding of this project is an initiative of the McCann Family Foundation.

Calgarians wishing to support our veterans are being encouraged to support the Canadian Legacy Project’s Veterans Food Drive or the Calgary Poppy Funds annual Poppy campaign.

From November 1st to November 11th at sunrise, there is a flag raising ceremony at the Field of Crosses including a bugler, piper, local dignitaries and family members who’s loved ones put their lives on the line.

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