Memorial crosses honour fallen soldiers

The number of crosses put up along Calgary's Memorial Drive in a temporary display to commemorate fallen soldiers has more than doubled since last year.
A veteran raises the flag at the Calgary Poppy Fund's Remembrance Day project along Memorial Drive on Monday morning. Flag ceremonies will take place every day in the field of 1,400 crosses until Nov. 11. ((CBC))

The number of crosses erected alongside Calgary's Memorial Drive over the weekend more than doubles last year's display.

In 2009, the first year of the project, the Calgary Poppy Fund put up about 670 crosses, each inscribed with the name, rank and date of death of service person.

But at a flag-raising ceremony on Monday morning, Calgary's war dead were commemorated in a field of nearly 1,500 wooden crosses.

"The World War I and World War II veterans killed in action are buried overseas in foreign countries. They didn't come home," said Calgary Poppy Fund chairman George Bittman, whose group organized the memorial project. "So this is sort of symbolic of them coming home, finally."

Klaus Rimke, one of the Canadian veterans who has helped put it all together, said the crosses and daily flag ceremonies will help people remember the sacrifices made by those locals who served in Canada's wars and fell in battle.

Rimke said the search is still on for Calgarians killed in the line of duty, and that it's believed more than 3,000 local men and women have died in while serving in the Canadian military around the world.

More than 1,400 crosses, each tied to a local member of the Canadian military killed in war, have been set up in a green space along Calgary's Memorial Drive west of the Centre Street Bridge. ((CBC))

Bittman said Veterans Affairs Canada has a website that lists the casualties from all of the military actions in which Canada has participated, from the Boer War onwards.

"The difficulty is sometimes they don't have the records as to where the individuals came from," he said.

The flag ceremonies, at dawn and dusk, will continue at the green space just west of the Centre Street Bridge until Remembrance Day.

Bittman said members of the public are welcome to come visit the site.

The project is funded by private donation.