It’s a project that takes weeks of hard work, but the volunteers involved in this year’s Field of Crosses say it’s worth every minute.
About 3,400 crosses will be out along Calgary’s Memorial Drive from Nov. 1 to 11.
Each cross represents a southern Albertan who died serving Canada, displaying the person’s name, rank, regiment, age at death and date of death.
This is Midge Chartier’s first year helping to clean and repair the crosses, and she’s got a very personal connection to the project.
“My father’s cross went though this morning.” Chartier said. “My father was killed in the Second World War. He had gone overseas before I was born. It was kind of interesting when I saw (his cross) came through, to take it and be able to dry it off, and then they bundled it.”
It made Chartier realize what a powerful experience it is for people to see the crosses.
“This is amazing, absolutely amazing,’ Chartier said.
Howard Leong was cleaning crosses alongside Chartier, recalling his experiences working as a civilian contractor supporting the military in Afghanistan.
“Working with NATO forces in Kandahar and also Kabul … once in a while there were rocket attacks coming into the camp,” Leong said. “We’d hear the sirens and we’d run to the bunkers with the armour and the helmets.”
As a former army reservist himself, Leong has an appreciation for the dedication of the people serving in Canada’s military.
“We have to remember the veterans that served and also died for our country,” he said.
Another one of the approximately 200 volunteers on the project is Alnar Ramji.
“I’m the daughter of an immigrant,” Ramji said. “I understand the value of a peaceful country, a country that’s accepting and welcoming, and we understand the sacrifices that the families have made in order for this country to be so wonderful.”
“This is our way of giving back,” Ramji said. “Remembrance Day is important.”
The public is welcome to visit the Field of Crosses at any time, including during its daily flag-raising and -lowering ceremonies at sunrise and sunset.
There’s also an extensive ceremony starting at 10:30 a.m. on Remembrance Day.