Field of Crosses a place to honour fallen soldiers as Kelowna's annual Remembrance Day service cancelled

·2 min read
Field of Crosses a place to honour fallen soldiers as Kelowna's annual Remembrance Day service cancelled
Field of Crosses a place to honour fallen soldiers as Kelowna's annual Remembrance Day service cancelled

With the city's traditional Remembrance Day ceremony in Kelowna's City Park cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the Field of Crosses Memorial Project are hoping their memorial display will give people a chance to quietly reflect on the sacrifice made by 240 soldiers who lost their lives in service of their country.

It's a striking display that visitors see as they enter the main walkway heading into City Park — a tree-lined field filled with rows of white crosses, each displaying the name, rank, regiment, age and date of death of Canadian Armed Forces members from the Kelowna area who died in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.

"Because we are not able to gather in large groups this year to celebrate Remembrance Day and to remember and reflect on the fallen, I think the Field of Crosses is even more important than before," said Carol Eamer, the co-ordinator for the memorial project.

The crosses are evenly spaced in long rows at a distance of two metres, which Eamer said is to allow people to view the display while keeping their distance from one another.

"A few people come at a time. We don't get huge gatherings or huge groups," she said. "It allows people to calmly and quietly walk around between the crosses and reflect on the names of the fallen."

Watch | People walk between the rows of the Field of Crosses in Kelowna B.C.:

It's the third year the memorial display has been held in Kelowna after Eamer brought the idea with her to the Okanagan from Calgary.

'It's very emotional'

Eamer has spoken with people who have come to the memorial display and found the cross honouring a family member.

"It's very emotional for them to see the names on the crosses and one or two of them even put photographs on the crosses of their relatives who have fallen in the war," she said.

This year, at sunset on the day before Remembrance Day, volunteers and family members of some of the soldiers will light red candles and place them in front of each cross.

Brady Strachan / CBC
Brady Strachan / CBC

"We think this is a very important gesture, a reflection, because the candles will burn right through midnight into Nov. 11 and that allows us to connect the crosses to Nov. 11," Eamer said.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the candle-lighting event, as long as they respect physical distancing guidelines, she said.