Thursday, November 5, 2015

Go...Buy a Poppy Today!

Lesson Taught... “You all Listen up and Pay Attention!”
(Gratitude to Meg for this Lesson)

In September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a History teacher at Valley Heights High School in Port Rowan, Ontario, did something not to be forgotten. That first day, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks in her classroom. When the first period kids entered the room, they discovered that there were no desks.”Mrs. Cothren, where are our desks?”.

She replied, “You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.”
They thought, “Well, maybe it's our grades.” She said, “No.”
Maybe it's our behaviour.” She said, “No, it's not your behaviour.”

And so, they came and went...the first period...second period...third period. Still no desks in the classroom. Kids called their parents to tell them what was happening and by early afternoon, television news crews had started gathering at the school to report about the crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the desk-less classroom, Martha Cothren said, “Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he or she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now, I am going to tell you.”

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it. Twenty-seven (27) Veterans, all in uniform, walked into that classroom...each carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows...and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place...those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives...just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.

Martha said, “You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. They went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers and families so you could have the freedom you have. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to be good be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it!”

By the way, this is a true story. And this teacher was awarded Veterans of Foreign Wars 'Teacher of the Year' in 2006. She is the daughter of a WWII POW.

The Freedoms we have in this Great Country
were earned by our Veterans!
Let us always remember the men and women of our military
and the rights they have won for us.
Now, Go and Buy a Poppy!

A Gift of Poppy Seeds
(written by Molly Hayes...published in The Hamilton Spectator)

Remembrance Day is going to be extra special for Shirley Milligan with thanks to a random act of kindness overseas. Milligan, in her early 60's had always been curious about her family history...her grandfather, especially, who was killed in the First World War. Inside a letter, from a stranger in England, she found seeds taken from the poppies that grow beside her grandfather's grave in France ~ which she's never been able to visit. She was overwhelmed! “I was very emotional ~ these seeds are the closest to my grandfather I've ever been,” holding the letter in the kitchen of her home in Canfield, a small community in Haldimand County. “It was very much a 'a life is a circle' kind of thing: these are a part of him...I can grow them; my kids can grow them.”

This kind gesture came from a woman she'd never met. Pam Wilkins of West Sussex reached out to her over Facebook, after both had joined a group called 'Ashington Remembered.' Not not far from the hometown of Milligan's family in England, Milligan was hoping to discover more about her father's family ~ the Davidsons ~ and about her father's father, Pte. James Davidson Jr., who served with the 2nd battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. She knows from records that her grandfather died on October 3, 1918, near the end of the war, during a battle in Valenciennes of northern France. Wilkins was taking a trip to France and wondered if Milligan (who in posts to the online group, revealed she had family buried there) would like her to stop by the grave-site. After the visit, Wilkins sent her a photo of a small cross and plant she placed at his grave attaching an enclosed note that said, 'Always remembered'...and promising she'd mail her a small souvenir from the site ~ never did she guess it would be so symbolic and personal.
She plans on planting some of the seeds here to honour him.
She hopes to pass some on to her children ~ to keep his story alive.

Statues in Ottawa and Guelph Will Honour John McCrae

A century after he scribbled the simple but poignant stanzas of 'In Flanders Fields', John McCrae is being honoured with two statues. On of the 'larger than life' bronzes will be installed in Ottawa on May 3, while a duplicate will be unveiled in Guelph, McCrae's hometown, this summer.

Jim Selbie, a retired general who holds the honourary post of Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, said McCrae exemplified the citizen-soldier concept: “He had two professions, both of which he had great commitment a physician but equally that as a gunner.”

Mike McKay, a Guelph businessman and a retired reservist, lieutenant-colonel, was one of the driving forces behind the project....McKay organized a fund-raising project to find the $300,000 for the Guelph statue. A second effort raised about $460,000 for the Ottawa statue (which was additionally supported from National Defence and Veteran Affairs as well as $50,000 from the government of Flanders, in Belgium).
Canadian sculptor, Ruth Abernethy, shows McCrae sitting on a tree trunk
...his cap perched on his medical bag.
(Published by John Ward in The Canadian Press)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written November 12, 2014
To to:


  1. MEG WRITES: "I absolutely loved the story.
    I wish more teachers would instruct in this way."

  2. Basically, education has come a long way...and Remembrance Day has advanced more positively to the forefront. This is our 'history' and should be taught.. through assemblies, parades and ceremonies the Day significantly becomes much more symbolic and meaningful.
    Thanks Meg for your comment.