A sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Field of Crosses on Thursday, November 5, 2020 honoured media killed covering combat. Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang who was killed with four soldiers in a 2009 IED explosion in Afghanistan. PHOTO BY GAVIN YOUNG/POSTMEDIA
As the annual Field of Crosses sunrise and sunset ceremonies have begun to once again honour southern Alberta’s fallen soldiers leading up to Remembrance Day, the organization is encouraging Calgarians to adopt a cross.
This year’s Remembrance Day ceremony at the Field of Crosses along Memorial Drive will be live-streamed, which Kent Griffiths, a spokesperson for the organization, hopes will bring a larger audience and allow parents a better opportunity to discuss the meaning behind the ceremony with their children.
The adopt-a-cross campaign is one way the Field of Crosses is hoping to continue funding the annual memorial into the future after it became a registered charity in 2018.
“You can adopt one of the 3,500crosses in memory of our fallen,” said Griffiths.
Every year the cost of the memorial exceeds $200,000, according to the Field of Crosses website. The fundraising campaigns are meant to cover the annual costs and create a legacy fund, which will preserve it as part of Calgary’s commitment to honouring southern Alberta’s fallen men and women.
The adopt-a-cross campaign specifically funds the maintenance of the crosses, ceremony costs, education expenses which includes a student breakfast with veterans and other community engagement activities that are organized.Over the summer and into the fall, the Field of Crosses also hosted its first Exercise Freedom Together, which encouraged Calgarians to sponsor their friends and family to get in some outdoor activities through $5 donations. The campaign was a success, with many people challenging others to donate and work out.
“The concept was for people to challenge others so it would pyramid and we would end up with many $5 donations, many people remembering and many more people understanding what the Field of Crosses is all about. It’s been really successful and this Remembrance Day more people know about it and we’ve had more support,” said Griffiths.
The campaign or something similar is likely to return next year but could be even more successful once people are able to run, bike and gather in larger groups.
This year’s sunrise and sunset ceremonies are by invitation only until Nov. 10, due to capacity limits related to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on gatherings.
The Night of Lights on Nov. 10 will be taking place but only designated volunteers will be allowed to help with the setup of the candles that will burn until sunrise on Nov. 11. After the sunset ceremony on Nov. 10, the park will open for people to walk through the crosses and candles.
On Remembrance Day, the park will be closed to the public from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. but will open to the public with a capacity of 100 people at a time.