Family History and Veteran’s Day

My late husband was a Vietnam Vet who always honored Veteran’s Day. So I thought I’d remember today with a post.
World War I ended officially on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 AM. Armistice Day was established on November 11 to honor those who died in the War to End All Wars. When I was little my parent’s still referred to Armistice Day. Unfortunately more wars followed and the day was renamed Veteran’s Day in the US. Fortunately Veteran’s Day is still celebrated on November 11th rather than the closest Monday. Some things are more important than three day weekends.

My sister-in-law from Canada sent me a packet of red poppies to wear and share today. (I noticed Will and Kate are wearing the identical poppies this week per on-line photos). Wearing poppies on Remembrance Day is still a tradition in Great Britain and Canada; it is an old tradition, dating back to well before the First World War.

My great-great grandmother, Sarah Bardell Hunt was born in 1804 in Derbyshire, England. She emigrated to America in 1864 as a sixty year old widow, traveled up through Canada and down to Missouri where she crossed the plains by covered wagon. She spent the last third of her life in south central Utah.
From Sarah Bardell Hunt’s biography written by her children and grandchildren I found the following”

“. . .in England Grandmother Hunt had seen peonies and had loved them as her favorite flower. (In England the peony is regarded highly as a medicinal herb.) There were none of them in this country in those days, but we all knew she loved ‘pinies’ as she called them, and she always wore a small red peony at both sides of her bonnet. Sarah Bardell Hunt made many hooked rugs in her later years. She used rags cut about one inch wide, and these were pulled into loops through a burlap sack with the use of a large wooden hook. Whenever she made a hooked rug she always fashioned a big red flower which she called in her quaint English a ‘piny’. So even though she died long ago, some of her descendants have always made sure that each Decoration Day there is al least one red peony placed on her grave.” She died August 1, 1894 at ninety one years old. Most of her descendants no longer remember her love of peonies or place the red flowers on her grave. But it was a beautiful tradition.

Today I am wearing a red poppy in remembrance of our veteran’s and my husband and all those who have gone before us. Perhaps this lovely, visual tradition can be reborn here in the United States!

About Karen Hopkins

Karen Hopkins (1949-) was born in Los Angeles and raised in Martinez, California. At seventeen she moved to Talcahuano, Chile. After completing her university degree she worked in London, England for Pan American Airlines and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, and India. For twenty-six years Karen taught Spanish and English as a Second Language in a variety of settings including a private school in Panama, the "most remote school in the United States" in Ticaboo, Utah, the Navajo Reservation, and a teacher exchange in Hermosillo, Mexico. Karen and her husband traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Central America, spending many summers in the highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala . Karen currently lives in Southern Arizona, near the Mexican border.
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