CALGARY- A solemn ceremony was held at sunrise on Thursday morning, in honour of a Calgary man whose vision and determination helped establish the field of crosses along Memorial Drive.

George Bittman was a navy veteran and former head of the Poppy Fund, before dying in a boating accident last December at age 72.

He and Calgary businessman Murray McCann established the field of crosses three years ago, in honour of Canada’s war veterans.

“We know he’s here because we had a committee take over from him, and when we got stumped we’d think, ‘what would George do,’ and the answer just came,” McCann said. “George would never be far away, he’s just over the horizon.”

Bittman believed that a field of crosses bearing the names of southern Alberta soldiers who died in combat would reinforce the reason Canadians pause to remember them every November.

“It’s breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking,” said his daughter, Laura Vanderkruk. “It really shows how many people gave their lives so we can have freedoms.”

Since 2009, the field of crosses project has grown from 680 crosses to nearly 3,000.

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