British Columbia

Organizers of B.C. Remembrance Day project search for families of fallen soldiers

The project is a visual memorial with 240 white crosses which are installed in the park before Remembrance Day to commemorate members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have died in the line of duty. Project leaders want to personalize the memorial by recognizing the relatives of those who have died.

'It’s the link between the past, and the present and the future,' says organizer

Two hundred and forty white crosses were installed last year in a downtown Kelowna park as part of the Field of Crosses Memorial Project. (Submitted by Carol Eamer)

The organizers of the Field of Crosses Memorial Project in Kelowna are looking for the relatives of those who are commemorated on the local cenotaph in a downtown park.

The project, which started last year, is a visual memorial with 240 white crosses installed in City Park before Remembrance Day to commemorate members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have died in the line of duty.

Now in its second year, Carol Eamer, chair of the project, wants to personalize the memorial experience by recognizing the families of those being memorialized at this year's opening ceremonies on November 4.

"We know that they lived in this general area at the time that they signed up and left to go to fight," said Eamer.

"What we don't know is who the living relatives are now who still live in this area, who actually could be related to those people whose names are on the crosses. We'd love for them to come forward."

Local cadets helped install 240 crosses last year in Kelowna's City Park before Remembrance Day. (Submitted by Carol Eamer)

"We'd also like to just get to know them and to get to know a bit about the history of the families since the person passed away."

Importance of history

Eamer, whose father and grandfather both served in the Royal Canadian Navy, believes a lot can be learned from how people lived during wars.

"It's the link between the past, and the present and the future. It's great to commemorate the lives of those people who passed, but we need to know that those people did have relatives who are still living here," she told Radio West host Sarah Penton. 

"Nobody is keeping a record of that. So I think it's very important for the future that we keep that information."

The cenotaph includes names of soldiers from the First and Second World Wars, Korean War and the conflict in Afghanistan. Each cross has the name of a person, their rank, their regiment, and if possible, their age and when they died; some as young as 18-years-old.

"The amazing thing is how young they were. That's what grabs most people."

Teaching students who visited from schools about this history resonated with Eamer.

"We find they don't even understand what a cenotaph is, or what it's for, what it means. But when they see the crosses, it really brings it to life for them."

Enhancing remembrance 

Keith Boehmer, a historian at the Okanagan Military Museum, helped research the people who are on the cenotaph and hopes the project will help people understand more about those who have died.

"We want to help students and the general public explore some of the biographies of these people to enhance the whole concept of the act of remembrance," said Boehmer.

Relatives of those who are commemorated on the cenotaph can contact Eamer at ceamer@telusplanet.net.

With files from Radio West

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