While scanning photographs from Summerville resident Nena Colbert's collection, several pictures showing the U.S. Army Calvary at Ft. Riley, Kansas were discovered inside a photo album. Nena knew of no family connection to the photographs and, since all the photographs were glued into the album pages, any information written on the backs of the photographs was inaccessible.
Nevertheless, in recognition of Veterans Day, Chattooga Photo History presents the following photographs courtesy of Nena Colbert. In addition, a Veterans Day essay by Summerville writer Judy Brooks is included with these photographs.
Remembering WWI: Let's Honor All Who Served
by Judy Brooks
by Judy Brooks
One of my earliest memories of downtown Summerville is of men wearing VFW caps and selling silk poppies from little tables set up in front of the Farmer's and Merchant's Bank. I had no idea why these were being sold, as my only knowledge of poppies came from a scene in The Wizard of Oz, and it was one of the few scenes from the movie I didn't find too scary. However, Mom always made it a point to stop and buy them, and I thought the red silk flowers were beautiful – I always looked forward to the times they were sold, wore them proudly, and even stowed them away in a dresser drawer afterward.
It would be quite a few years before I became educated about the association between World War I and poppies, but I was especially proud when I learned that it was Georgia native and University of Georgia graduate Moina Belle Michael who was primarily responsible for the adoption of the poppy as a symbol to honor all veterans. Moina received inspiration for her actions from John McCrae's poem, “In Flanders Fields,” in which he writes of the profusion of poppies that bloomed in the recently-churned and blood-soaked dirt of the famous WWI battlefields.
Although she had read the poem before, Moina came across it again in the November 1918 issue of The Ladies Home Journal, left on a table at the YMCA headquarters where she worked. After reading it again, she swore to remember those who fell fighting, and to wear a red poppy from the fields of Flanders to honor all who died. She then grabbed a used envelope and quickly jotted down her response – a poem of her own, entitled “We Shall Keep the Faith.”
This hastily scribbled poem marked the beginning of her covenant to honor those who died fighting in the “war to end all wars, “ and she made a commitment to always wear a red poppy as a sign of remembrance. This was the first step in a lengthy and steadfast mission to see the flower adopted as a national emblem to represent the veterans of our country. She became well-known as “The Poppy Lady,” and in 1922, the VFW proclaimed the poppy as the official flower for U.S. Veterans. These poppies are still worn today, and the monies collected from their sales are used to assist those veterans returning from war, as well as their families.
Like many of the folks in this area, I have relatives who are veterans: two of my uncles served in the U.S. Navy. Also, two of my nephews served in the army, and saw combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I am grateful to all of them, as well as the other veterans of Chattooga County, and the United States of America. We each owe them a debt greater than we can ever repay. This Veterans Day, let's make a pledge of our own to honor ALL of our nation's veterans, including those who are deceased, and served in wars long past. It's the least we can do to express our gratitude.
Also, remember that Veterans Day is only one day out of the year, but for many veterans and their families our help and support are just as vital on the remaining 364 days! There are other steps we can take to support the men and women who are still serving, as well as those who may no longer be actively in the service, but have risked their lives for our country and its people. Here are several options for those who wish to do even more:
Place flags on the graves of war dead, and/or leave flowers or notes expressing appreciation at a veterans memorial.
Visit or volunteer at a local V.A. Hospital of your choice, or go to
Support your local chapter of the VFW, either with a financial contribution, or by volunteering.
Donate your old cellphones to help out those in service. Click here for details.
Send books, DVDs, games, and other supplies to troops. Click here for details.
Finally, Military.com offers lots of advice regarding mail restrictions on packages, financial contributions, email, and letter-writing, along with many links to programs and services that benefit soldiers and their families. Click here for more details.
After graduating with the CHS class of 1973, Judy Brooks attended Berry College before beginning a career that encompassed a number of diverse positions, from bartender and directory assistance operator to assistant grant-writer and office manager. She has lived in Rome, Atlanta, and Paducah, KY, where she spent two years in the Information Technology program at West Kentucky College and Technical School. Judy returned to Summerville in September of 2010, and is quite content to be back among family and friends. She is currently a writer and editor, and is in the process of establishing her own Internet publishing company. She is passionate about movies, books, writing, cooking, jazz, and spending time with her family, and would be thrilled to hear from friends, classmates, and other interested members of the community. Judy can be reached at email@example.com.
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2012 Greg W. McCollum. All rights reserved.