On Thursday, staff and students from St. Mary’s University placed lit candles at the base of each and every one of the 3,620 markers that make up Calgary’s Field of Crosses.
It’s part of the Night of Lights which ensures that every service member honoured at the annual display is individually recognized on the eve of Remembrance Day.
Brianne Dangerfield is a fifth-year history student at St. Mary’s and said the process of placing each lantern allowed her to reflect on those who lost their lives in combat.
“We make sure that every single year their name is said and they’re remembered,” said Dangerfield. “We are remembering the individuals, as opposed to just the war.”
Thursday’s volunteers were part of St. Mary’s Presidents Volunteer Group, a program that gives students an opportunity to give back while completing their degrees.
St. Mary’s president and vice-chancellor Sinda Vanderpool said the time spent in the sunny yet cold conditions helps remind students of the sacrifices paid by the thousands of service members.
“We emphasize educating students not just in mind, but also in heart and body,” said Vanderpool. “We want to train them as they’re going through academic programs, to begin giving back.”
The lanterns will burn throughout the night until the morning of Remembrance Day but it’s by no means the final shift for the Field of Crosses’ volunteers.
On Saturday, crews will begin carefully collecting each individual aspect of the display including the lanterns, flags, poppies and crosses in order to prepare them for next year.
The Field of Crosses’ president Susan Schalin said the annual display would never happen without the dedicated work of volunteers.
“We have a couple 100 volunteers and they come back year after year,” said Schalin. “They just know what to do so we put those experienced volunteers in the lead positions and the new ones fall behind and learn what to do.”
A televised Remembrance Ceremony is held at the Field of Crosses at 10 a.m., hosted by Global’s Linda Olson and carried live on Global Calgary and the Global TV streaming services.