Eyeing the new Field of Crosses Cenotaph Saturday, Jim Welsh says when you sign up to join the armed forces, you’re signing a blank cheque for up to and including your life.
“Every one of the crosses (placed here every year) represents someone from this particular area of Alberta who made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
“It could have been any of us (who died serving their country) — at any given time.”
Saturday morning, the Calgary Canadian Army Veteran Motorcycle Unit president was one of several dozen who came out for the unveiling and dedication of the Field of Crosses Cenotaph, at Memorial Dr., just north of the Centre Street Bridge.
On one side, the cenotaph reads, “Never may we fail to remember those who sacrificed their lives in defence of this great country and the freedoms we all enjoy.”
On the other side, beneath a vibrant red engraved poppy, the cenotaph reads, “We will never forget.”
It’s a permanent addition to the Field of Crosses Memorial Project that’s gone on every year there since 2009.
Silence was observed after the Last Post was played — it was a celebration, but the weight of the reason for it was not lost on those gathered.
“If it wasn’t for those who went before us, we wouldn’t be here today to enjoy the freedoms we have,” Calgary Poppy Fund CEO Joey Bleviss said.
“It’s very important that our citizens today remember what is going on.
“People forget we still have armed forces in (places) all around the world, giving us the liberties that we cherish so much.”
Murray McCann was on-hand, on behalf of the McCann Family Foundation, which founded and funded the Field of Crosses project.
Seeing the cenotaph finally unveiled is a point of pride for the local businessman.
“My family have been the recipients of those who gave up their lives,” Murray said.
“We have enjoyed the freedoms that we have in Calgary, and in Canada, and have had some success only because of the environment that was created by others.”
According to the Field of Crosses Memorial Project, and reflected in the number of white crosses put up along Memorial Dr. each November, roughly 4,000 men and women from southern Alberta have died in service in either combat or peacekeeping activities.