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Motorcycle veterans in Calgary install foundation for Field of Crosses

WATCH: Every year the empty patch of grass bordering Calgary's Memorial Drive is transformed. About 30 veterans from a motorycle unit prepare the ground for the field of crosses. As Jill Croteau reports, they represent the supportive backbone needed to secure the thousands of crosses.

For days, the Canadian Army Veterans (CAV) motorcycle unit in Calgary embraces a duty of exhaustive work.

Members spend hours installing the pedestals to support the crosses in the memorial field.

Veteran Serge Plante knows the value of what they’re doing.

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“I will be honest, it’s grueling and we are hurting for a week afterwards, but I feel I owe them and these people.

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“It just brings tears to my eyes all the time,” Plante said.

Veteran Serge Plante
Veteran Serge Plante Nate Luit

For most of them, their fellow comrades aren’t represented on any crosses bearing their names.

Veteran Dave Hartman said he lost many friends who suffered from PTSD.

Preparing the field brings worth to the price they paid after returning home from the battlefield.

Veteran Dave Hartman
Veteran Dave Hartman Nate Luit

“I guess I want to honor them. I miss them quite a bit and these guys, they deserve it. People don’t understand that they are still brothers,” Hartman said through tears.

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Just over 3,400 metal bases are implanted in the field.

It reminds people like veteran John Sereda the magnitude of those who deserve respect.

CAV members installing bases for Field of Crosses
CAV members installing bases for Field of Crosses Jill Croteau

“It’s humbling. The Canadian soldiers are remembered with their names on a cenotaph but to gather 3,400 and bring them here and put their names up on crosses and see the size of the sacrifice in southern Alberta, it brings it home,” Sereda said.

One of the members, Tom MacCarl, makes a creation every year.

This time he made a monument for the unknown solider.

Tom MacCarl built this for the Unknown Soldier
Tom MacCarl built this for the Unknown Soldier Nate Luit

The work helps him heal from the past.

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“I joined the army with nine other guys and I’ve buried all nine of them.”

“I missed the bullet and in turn I lost quite a few friends,” MacCarl said.

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“At first, it hurts. You always get questions: ‘Why am I here? Why wasn’t I taken?’

“The questions never stop. But I know what I did and I know why and it never leaves you. It’s sad. It lives with you.”

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