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Kelowna’s Field of Crosses memorializes fallen veterans

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Kelowna’s Field of Crosses memorializes fallen veterans – Nov 2, 2021

Like a scene from John McCrae’s poem from 1915, In Flanders Fields, scores of white crosses are set up in Kelowna’s City Park, marking the names of those who made the supreme sacrifice.

“Each cross represents a person from the Kelowna area who volunteered for service to Canada and lost their lives in the service of the country,” Keith Boehmer, Field of Crosses chairperson, explained of the 227 crosses.

Row after row, cross after cross, each one is adorned with the name of a Kelowna veteran, their rank, branch they served in, their age and date of death.

Together the crosses make up Kelowna’s Field of Crosses, a multi-partner community service memorial project that embodies the idea of lest we forget.

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Dick Fletcher is a 95-year-old veteran who laid a wreath at the cross of the unknown soldier, as part of the Field of Crosses’ opening ceremony on Tuesday morning.

“It’s very important for each and every one of us to remember what those people gave their lives for,” said Fletcher.

“If we didn’t have them, if they had not given up their lives, we would not be standing here doing an interview.”

This is the third year for the Field of Crosses, a teaching tool for some Grade 7 through 9 students who are brought to view the temporary memorial and learn more about Remembrance Day.

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But the memorial isn’t just about student engagement — it also provides a very real connection for those who lost family members.

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“It’s an amazing, astonishing thing that they have organized here,” Debbie Bryan said.

For the past three years, Bryan and her brother Leonard Garner have visited the memorial to honour their grandfather, Albert Garner, who died returning from the Second World War in 1942.

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“For me, it’s sort of a physical connection to see something that represents my grandfather,” Leonard Garner said.

“And to give respect to my grandfather and other people who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war and to continue the memories.”

The Field of Crosses memorial project is on display until Remembrance Day, Nov. 11.

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