Today’s post is something that really caught me off guard, one of those things you don’t see coming.
I don’t think that I’ve mentioned before, but I’ve lived in the same city my entire life. I live in beautiful Calgary, Alberta and my affection and pride for this place I call home has certainly grown over the years.
Every year at this time there’s a display put up on a major road along the Bow River to commemorate the fallen soldiers. It’s been running 6 years and was initially set up by a Calgary business man, Murray McCann in 2009.
McCann approached his friend the late George Bittman (the former head of the Calgary Poppy Fund) after seeing a display while travelling in Georgia that had profoundly touched him. It was a display to honour fallen soldiers. McCann, wanting to do something similar, approached Bittman to solicit his help and together the two men launched the the Field of Crosses Memorial Project along with legion representatives and city officials.
I’ve driven by the display countless times over the years but last night as we were driving home I asked my husband if he’d mind pulling over so we could walk through it, something we had never done.
As we walked among the countless rows of crosses, it started to hit me . . . these weren’t just white crosses, they were the markers of someone’s son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, uncle or aunt who had lost their life in the war. I felt a lump form in my throat . . . I was looking at more than 3,200 crosses that represented the lives lost in Southern Alberta fighting for my country.
Each cross we passed was inscribed with the soldiers name, age at death, rank, regiment and date of death. These soldiers had seen conflicts or missions in the field during the Boer War, through to the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the peace keeping missions in the Middle East, Cyprus and Afghanistan.
We continued walking and as we did I noticed something fluttering in the wind, it was a photograph someone had attached to one of the crosses of their loved one. Suddenly the cross had a face, and the enormity of it all really hit home.
We don’t tend to think a whole lot about the freedoms we enjoy or the price that many paid in order for us to have it but I know after tonight, I’ll never look upon that display the same again.
There is no way for me to express the gratitude I feel for the men and women who paid the ultimate price for my freedom, nor words I can say to ease the pain of their loved ones. I am just so grateful that Murray McCann and George Bittman wanted to ensure that although these men and women had lost their lives . . . they would not be forgotten in this beautiful way.