Crosses to honour fallen soldiers

Hundreds of white crosses will soon line a major road in Calgary to honour soldiers who have died in the line of duty

CALGARY — Hundreds of white crosses will soon line a major road in Calgary to honour soldiers who have died in the line of duty.

About two dozen volunteers gathered Sunday to set up the crosses, each representing a Calgary man or woman who died while serving in war.

“It’s meant to look like Flanders Fields — it really helps put the visualization there,” said Klaus Rimke, president of the Calgary chapter of the Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Unit, which provided many of the volunteers.

While the crosses are erected, the body of Sapper Steven Marshall, 24, of Calgary, returns to Canadian soil on Tuesday. Marshall was killed by an explosive west of Kandahar City on Friday.

His casket will be taken down the official Highway of Heroes, a stretch of Highway 401 between CFB Trenton and Toronto.

Funeral details are still being discussed for Marshall, the 133rd Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan.

“As for the funeral arrangements, it is still being discussed as to where everything will take place,” Emilie Faucher, Land Force Western Area public affairs officer, said Sunday.

George Bittman, chairman of the Calgary Poppy Foundation, estimates there are about 3,000 war dead from the Calgary area, but said only 516 have been identified.

“One of the points was to try and get all 3,000 crosses up to demonstrate the number of people from Calgary who have sacrificed their lives; this is what we’ve found so far,” said Bittman.

Veteran Dan Forde said he’s glad Calgary is honouring its own fallen soldiers with this initiative.

“I think it’s important for cities to pay special attention to their own home-grown sons and daughters,” he said.

The memorial site will stay up until after Remembrance Day, but the Calgary Poppy Fund has committed to re-erecting it around this time in the coming years.

Calgary businessman Murray McCann is donating up to $100,000 of his own money to pay for the project.

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