MRU commemorates student sacrifice with campus field of crosses

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For a fourth year, Mount Royal University installed a field of crosses on Thursday to remember the 30 students, faculty and staff who lost their lives serving in the military.

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The crosses, donated by Memorial Drive’s Field of Crosses founder Murray McCann and his family’s foundation, will be in place in the campus’ Dr. John H. Garden Memorial Park until Nov. 12.

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In addition to the memorial, MRU has been honouring the lives of those 30 individuals with a Military Memorial Bursary Program that has given thousands of dollars to roughly 30 current students each year since its creation in 2011.

In an effort to enable the bursary program to continue in perpetuity, the university has fundraised $3.6 million of its $4-million goal toward a permanent endowment for the program, a target they hope to reach this year.

“When students today, or young people (in general), may not have any direct connection to certainly the First or Second World War because they were so long ago . . . Those sacrifices become increasingly abstract,” said Paul Rossmann, MRU’s vice-president of university advancement. 

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“But by telling the stories of our students, it puts a face and a story to the names and makes it relatable for our students today.”

Field of Crosses founder McCann was inspired to create the memorial after a trip to the southern U.S. where he was moved by a memorial to fallen soldiers in Georgia.

“I saw the crosses along the road and I just realized that I had so much . . . I just became emotional, I pulled over, started to cry. I had never truly given credit, proper credit, for those who gave up their lives for me to have the life that I had,” he said.

McCann added he is glad to see new and existing memorials continue to make connections to the past across the city.

“MRU supports us and, of course, we support them . . . I hope as long as we have fields of crosses, it will remind us of the huge price (of freedom).”

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