This year, Memorial Day is different from years past. Not just because of the Coronavirus. This is the first time, I spend Memorial Day weekend without Matt since we got married 50 years ago on Memorial Day Weekend. I miss the times we walked to the corner of our street in Oyster Bay to see the parade. It’s not the same anymore and never will be the same again.
I found this photo of Matt in one of the boxes in his closet while cleaning up his things. I always wonder why I have not seen any picture of him in uniform. Well, I finally found one. He served in WWII with the U.S. Navy.
“Taps” is a bugle call played at dusk, during flag ceremonies, and at military funerals by the United States Armed Forces. … The tune is also sometimes known as “Butterfield’s Lullaby”, or by the first line of the lyric, “Day Is Done”.
Lest we forget. . . Remember the men in uniform who fought so we can have the freedom we enjoy today.
This month as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, it is interesting to note that the rose is not only a symbol of love but a symbol of discretion. Legend has it that Cupid gave a red rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence, to bribe him to secrecy over the dalliance of Venus and so the red rose become the symbol of discretion, love, passion and romance. Roses were henceforth painted on the ceilings of banquet halls to remind all gathered there that whatever was said there, should not be repeated which became the expression sub rosa (under the rose).
Another legend says that while Aphrodite was running to the dying Adonis, she was scratched by a rose bush and her blood falling on the roses turn it red. Other account says that Adonis turned his blood into red roses.
Whatever legend strikes your fancy, there is nothing in our garden at this time of the year but the florist and even the supermarket stores are selling roses grown in South America so there is no excuse not to give red roses for Valentine’s Day.
And how did Valentine’s Day get started?
A certain Bishop Valentine started it to replace the Roman festival of Lupercalia. There were several Bishops of Valentine but nobody is really certain as to who is the real Bishop Valentine. But whoever he is, the tradition continues and we celebrate this day exchanging gifts and greetings between our loved ones, friends, family but mostly lovers.
During the Victorian era, valentine cards were mostly decorated with old-fashioned roses. Even today, valentines are still associated with roses. For Valentine’s Day, red roses are arbitrarily the most popular flower.
There are several red roses in the market nowadays but I can recommend some tried and true varieties that grow very well in the garden. Plant some of them and give your Valentine red roses again in June.
Here are my favorites:
Firefighter – dark red rose
Ingrid Bergman – dark red rose
Lasting Love – dark red rose
Let Freedom Ring – medium red rose
Mister Lincoln – dark red rose
Olympiad – medium red rose
Veterans’ Honor – dark red rose
For the romantic at heart, here is a lovely poem by Robert Burns (1759-1796).
There isn’t an American who is not affected by that tragedy at the New York Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Everyone who died in that tragedy left someone behind who loved them. Rose is a flower of love. To honor and pay tribute to all the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Sue Casey of Portland, Oregon formed an organization called Remember Me” Rose Gardens to create three rose gardens on or near the sites of the terrorist attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and at a field in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County in Pennsylvania.
The intent of “Remember Me” Rose Garden” is to affirm love and life year after year with the blooming of each rose bush. It is a national opportunity for us to remember the fallen and celebrate life, liberty and freedom through roses.
“Firefighter” – In September, 2003, “Remember Me” Rose Garden announced “Firefighter” the first of the eleven roses to be named. “Firefighter” is a red hybrid tea rose to honor the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
“Soaring Spirits” – In September, 2004 “Remember Me” Rose Garden announced “Soaring Spirits”, the second rose to be named. “Soaring Spirits” is a new cream pink and yellow striped climbing rose to honor the more than 2,000 people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 as they worked in the World Trade Center Towers.
“We Salute You” In September, 2005 “Remember Me” Rose Garden announced “We Salute You”, the third to be named. “We Salute You” is an orange/pink hybrid tea to honor the 125 service members, employees, and contract workers who died in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
“Forty Heroes” On April 27, 2006 “Remember Me” Rose Garden announced in New York City, “Forty Heroes”, a beautiful golden yellow floribunda named for the crew and passengers of United Flight 93. Courageously they fought back forcing hijackers to crash the plane in rural Pennsylvania instead of the intended target in Washington, D.C., changing the course of history.
“The Finest” is a beautiful white hybrid tea rose that honors the 23 NYPD Officers lost in the line of duty on September 11, 2001. These 23 NYPD Officers, in their dedication to protect the lives of fellow citizens, gave the ultimate sacrifice-their lives. “The Finest” honors the NYPD.
“Patriot Dream” honors the 64 people who were the crew and passengers on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. A family member of the Flight 77 crew suggested the name for this beautiful salmon colored rose. “Patriot Dream” is a shrub rose with a light fruity fragrance. “Patriot Dream” will be planted at the three Washington, D.C. schools who had students and teachers aboard Flight 77.
“Survivor’s Rose” The name “Survivor” was suggested by a group of Survivors’ who worked in the World Trade Center. Lead by JoAnn Pedersen, the group said there could be no other name for the dark pink rose. The survivors who made it out of the World Trade Center helped rescue others, aiding in their escape down the stairwells before the Towers collapsed. At the Pentagon, survivors struggled to reach safety after Flight 77 crashed into the building. Ordinary people became heroes to one another.
“Wings of Courage”, a beautiful butter yellow rose with a halo of white petals. It is mildly scented and can have up to thirty blooms at one time. “Wings of Courage” is named in honor of the crew and passengers of American Airlines Flight 11 which struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001.
Is there a pot of gold for us lovers of roses?For all the Irish in all of us, we can say we have a green rose, not St. Patrick rose which only has a tint of green, but a real green rose.It is Viridiflora ‘Rosa Monstrosa’ otherwise known as The Green Rose.The buds are small, oval, of soft bluish green color and quite beautiful.The petals of the bloom reverted back to leaves (petals are modified leaves) and it does not have reproductive organs.The “blooms” are usually formed in clusters throughout the year, and a spray of this rose is wonderful.As you would expect from an Old Garden Rose, this one is fragrant too.It has a spicy fragrance.But unless you know what you’re looking for, it is hard to find the bud since the bush is totally green.But is it really a rose?The Green Rose is just that, a green rose.It blooms continually through the season.The small plant grows to 3’ tall and has few thorns.It can be grown in a pot, and is rarely out of “blooms”.
It is an oddity and a conversation piece to say the least.Just as when you present your friend with a perfect rose and they ask “Is that real?”, I bet you this same person will tell you this one is not a rose.However, records say The Green Rose has been in cultivation as early as 1743 and is a sport from Rosa Indica (The China Rose of England and the Daily Rose of America).So take pride, we have our own green to celebrate.
“May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rains fall softly upon your rose beds.”
Try it.You might like it.People either love or hate this rose It is a wonderful rose to use as a filler material in arrangements or as a landscape rose. But you will have some visitors in your garden who will say “That is the ugliest flower I’ve ever seen.Why do you give it space?” Because it is unique and fragrant. It is also a rose and it belongs to my rose collection.
Veteran’s Day evolved in the years following World War I, or “The Great War,” as it was known at the time. The Great War, a war to end all wars, ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month in 1918 when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of the war to end all wars. In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. In 1938, Armistice Day became a legal holiday by an act of Congress.
World War I or “The Great War” officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, at the Palace of Versailles, France, when all warring powers executed a formal declaration of peace. Fighting, however, had ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
The major players on the stage of history at this time were known as The Big Three: President Woodrow Wilson, Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Great Britain and President Georges Clemenceau of France.Pfc. Henry Gunther will be remembered as the last soldier to die on Nov. 11, 1918 with one minute remaining before the armistice would end all conflict. This otherwise unknown man would charge a German machine gun encampment disregarding their attempts to wave him back, knowing that in a matter of seconds they could all leave their trenches and once again breathe the soft air of peace. Gunther fell after a short blast of fire joining the 116,000 of his fellow American comrades that died in that war.
The last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, age 109, died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2011. In December 2010, he appeared before Congress to plead for the approval of a memorial to honor those American soldiers who died in the Great War. He had enlisted at the age of 16, but his service to his country did not end there. He also served in World War II and was captured by the Japanese, enduring the infamous Bataan Death March. He survived three years in a Japanese prison camp, weighing only 85 pounds when he was finally liberated.
November 11 continued to be observed as Armistice Day until 1954 when, at the urging of the veterans’ organizations, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an act of Congress on June 1, 1954 formally changing the word “Armistice” to “Veterans” in order to expand the significance of that (Armistice Day) celebration and in order that a grateful nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this nation.
In 1968, Congress moved Veteran’s Day to the fourth Monday in November, but returned it to its traditional date in 1978 after heavy lobbying by veterans groups and concerned citizens, who believed that moving the observance to create a three-day holiday only served to take the focus off the historical significance of the day. The original concept for the commemoration was for a day observed with parades and public gatherings and a brief suspension of business at 11 a.m. At New York Stock Exchange, trading stopped at 11 am for a 2-minute silence. Unfortunately, we have gotten away from that original concept, and many people look upon November 11 as simply a day off from work to relax or take advantage of store sales and forget that the reason the day was set aside was to honor our nation’s veterans.
Throughout the history of our great nation, courageous men and women have served in the armed forces to secure, defend and maintain the freedoms upon which our nation was founded. They represent the finest in the American character who answered our country’s call during WWII, suffered through biting cold winters and scorching summers in Korea, endured booby-trapped jungles and steamy heat in Vietnam and are currently fighting in the unforgiving mountains in Afghanistan and the deserts in Iraq. They came from all walks of life, religions and ethnic backgrounds. Right now, members of our armed forces are putting their lives on the line in the war against terrorism, and hardly a day goes by when there is not a report of one or more of these brave soldiers paying the ultimate price. Their sacrifices have given us the freedom we enjoy today which is why we remember and salute their service.
On Nov. 11, our country honors all veterans and active duty soldiers on Veteran’s Day. We remember Henry Gunther and Frank Buckles and all those who laid down their lives in the defense of freedom and pray that our brave men and women, now serving in our armed services, return to us and lead long, safe and productive lives.
Every year around Memorial Day, you see volunteers of the American Legion Auxiliary distributing bright red crepe paper poppies made by hospitalized veterans in exchange for contributions which help both disabled and hospitalized veterans. The program provides multiple benefits to veterans and the community. Donations are used exclusively to assist and support veterans and their families and the poppy also reminds the community of the continuing needs of veterans. The veterans who make the poppies earn a small wage and there are many therapeutic benefits, both mental and physical, associated with the activity.
The legend of the poppy began during World War I when a Lt. Col. John McCrea, a doctor and a member of the Canadian army, wrote a beautiful poem called, In Flanders Fields, which has become one of the most famous war poems honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The Poppy’s worldwide symbol of sacrifice is worn to honor the men and women who served and dies for their country in all wars, including the Global War on Terrorism. The Poppy grew wild on the battlefields of Flanders Fields and has become a symbol of sacrifice endured by the soldiers. Like the blood that was shed there, its brilliant red bloom became a symbol of hope and renewal for those who lived and walked away. For those who would never leave, it became a perpetual memory to their bravery. So please look for the volunteer with the tray of poppies and support the veterans.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields the Poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though Poppies grow
in Flanders Fields.
By Lt. Col. John McCrea (1872-1918)
Like The Star Spangled Banner, written in Baltimore Harbor during the bombardment, In Flanders Fields was written on the spot, as Canadian battle surgeon, John McCrae gazed at fresh graves of his friends and comrades, and poppies “blowing” in the wind. Obviously, the post-war, blood red bloom from the fields of battle had a huge impact on all who saw or heard about it and has been a lasting memorial.