Field of Crosses: MRU honours veterans before Remembrance Day
This Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of Canada’s Hundred Days. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, “battlefields of Europe were capped by a three-month stretch of victories at the end of the war – August 8th to November 11th, 1918.” To Canadians, Nov. 11 became known as Remembrance Day — a day to respect and honour veterans and fallen soldiers for their service and sacrifice.
How does MRU honour veterans?
In 2011, Mount Royal University’s centennial year, the university announced a Military Memorial Bursary Program. The university created these bursaries in honour of “students, faculty, staff and alumni [who] have served in uniform. Since the First World War, 29 have given their lives,” according to MRU’s website.
The university accepts donations for the program in honour of individuals who sacrificed their lives. “These Military Memorial Bursaries will honour the sacrifice made by the fallen members of our Mount Royal family, while furthering the dreams of 29 Mount Royal students, every year, in perpetuity.”
To the university, these individuals are not just a number. MRU’s website says, “We remember them. We remember their potential, their names – their faces. In keeping with our tradition of forging lifelong connections, the thread that ties each revered member of this group to Mount Royal will now stretch beyond their lifespan to touch generations.”
The bursaries are given to students based on financial need and academic achievement. MRU reports that students who receive these bursaries are two times more likely to graduate. In the 2018-19 academic calendar, 19 of the 29 recipients of the bursary are “active members or veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces.”
Field of Crosses
On MRU Alumni Instagram, the organization posted about honouring MRU’s 29 fallen soldiers. The university remembered these individuals by placing a special card on the crosses of the soldiers at Calgary’s Field of Crosses Memorial Project.
The Field of Crosses is an annual display of white crosses along Memorial Drive in Calgary. The display appears every year and honours those who have sacrificed their lives with over 3,400 crosses in the display.
At the Field of Crosses, a display stone reads, “In memory of those who paid the supreme sacrifice during war.”
The project was founded by Calgary businessman, Murray McCann, who got the idea from a similar display in a small town in Georgia. McCann shared the idea with his friend, George Bittman, who was the head of the Calgary Poppy Fund at the time. They pursued the project to honour fallen soldiers from Southern Alberta.
McCann was also recently honoured by MRU on Nov. 2, 2018. He addressed over 300 students at MRU’s convocation. McCann also received an honorary Bachelor of Nursing degree at the convocation ceremony.
Each of MRU’s 29 fallen soldiers are honoured at the Field of Crosses display from Nov. 1 to 11.