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‘The Poppy Lady’: the woman behind the Veterans Day symbol

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This year, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official Veterans Day poster commemorates the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I and prominently features one of the war’s most famous symbols: the blood-red poppy.

The association of the poppy with World War I comes from Canadian John McCrae’s famous poem, “In Flanders Fields,” which describes poppies growing over makeshift graves on the battlefields of war-torn Belgium.  However, many people don’t realize that without the efforts of American professor, Moina Michael, the poppy wouldn’t have become the well-known symbol honoring war veterans that it is today.

Michael first read McCrae’s poem only days before the armistice on November 11, 1918. She was especially moved by the poem’s final lines: “If ye break faith with us who die / We shall not sleep, though poppies grow / In Flanders fields.” Determined not to “break faith” with the soldiers who lost their lives, Michael made a vow to wear a red poppy year-round to commemorate the war and honor those who served.

After the war, Michael started teaching classes for disabled veterans and soon realized that many former servicemen were in need of financial support and employment opportunities. She began a letter-writing campaign advocating that artificial poppies be sold and distributed to raise funds for veterans. Making poppies also provided work to veterans with disabilities hindering them from finding jobs.

Because of her work on behalf of veterans, Michael became a national hero affectionately known as “The Poppy Lady.” Her efforts led the American Legion to adopt the poppy as its memorial symbol. Today, the poppy is internationally recognized as a symbol of World War I remembrance and serves as a tribute to war veterans.

Local News

Happy New Year

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Wishing you 12 months of success, 52 weeks of laughter, 365 days of fun, 8760 hours of joy, 525600 minutes of good luck and 31536000 seconds of happiness.

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Interesting Things You Need to Know

Mind your step and the fires, it’s Hogmanay

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Light the torches and get out of the house, my friends, this is the month for Hogmanay.

Hogmanay is usually called New Year’s Eve in North America, but in Scotland, where Hogmanay is beloved, it can be a three- to five-day festival of fire and fun that begins with First Footing.

The first person to step over your threshold in the new year is the First Footer and it shouldn’t be just anyone. The First Footer has to be a tall, dark man and he has to step in before anyone else. A blond or red-haired man won’t do and a blond or red-haired woman is actually bad luck.

The requirement for a dark-haired First Footer probably has roots in Scotland’s history. Given the many Viking invasions of the country, there were plenty of times when a tall, blond dude at your door was probably carrying an axe — never a great way to start the year, or anything else.

The good news is that the neighborhood First Footer will bring blessings in the form of small gifts. Wishes for warmth during the year, a piece of coal. For food, shortbread. For the flavor of life, salt. For joy and prosperity, a wee dram of whiskey. Lucky you, if you have a lot of friends bringing blessings.

Later, neighbors and friends drink a toast to the New Year and sing Auld Lange Syne.

After First Footing comes fire, and plenty of it. Scots like fire festivals and they are found throughout the fall until the end of January. For Hogmanay, bonfires burn throughout the country. Revelers in the coastal town of Stonehaven wear kilts and swing big baskets of fire. In Edinburgh, enormous wicker figures (such as a bull) become a towering bonfire amid fireworks. Also in Edinburgh, 15,000 people carry torches through the street, according to Scotland.org.

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Winter driving: five tire safety considerations

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Good tires that are adapted to winter conditions as well as your vehicle are essential to stay safe on the road throughout the cold season.

Here are five points to consider when it comes time to tire up your car for the winter:

1. Even if there’s no snow in the forecast, it’s a good idea to install winter tires on your car once temperatures reach around 45 °F. Anything colder than that will have a hardening effect on the rubber of summer tires, thus reducing their traction. Winter tires, on the other hand, are designed to maintain optimal flexibility—even on days where the thermometer plummets to -40 °F.

2. Your tires should have a tread depth of at least 6/32?. If they don’t, or if they’re almost worn to the limit, replace them without delay.

3. It’s essential that all four tires on your car be identical and of the correct size. They should also ideally show roughly the same level of wear. If they don’t, install the least-worn tires in the back to maximize your vehicle’s stability.

4. There’s more than one type of winter tire: some are designed for snowy conditions, while others perform better on ice. Make sure that you choose your tires according to the road conditions you’re most likely to encounter.

5. Tire pressure greatly influences your car’s abilities when it comes to braking distance and maneuverability, among others. Regularly ensure that your tires are inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. No more, no less!

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Local News

Frequent Front Royal visitor shares photo of new friend

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British Robin Redbreast arrives for Christmas dinner. / Photo by Neville Barr

Neville Barr, a frequent visitor to Front Royal and the Warren County community, shared a rare, perhaps unique, photograph of his Christmas visitor this year.

For the past several weeks, Neville, of Derby, England, has patiently encouraged a robin, often seen visiting his yard, to take food from his hand. Over the holidays, the bird, smaller than the American version of the robin, began accepting the proffered food and began engaging with his benefactor.

Shortly before Christmas, Neville, the brother of Rockland resident Malcolm Barr Sr., was able to talk the wild bird into posing for a photograph before feasting on food from Neville’s outstretched hand.

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Local Government

And a Merry Christmas from inside the Warren County Government Center

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Children’s Services Act (CSA) Director Jeannie Decker’s door

The Commissioner of the Revenue’s door, at distance, and a closer welcome to ‘Commissionerville’

And the County Administration Office’s tree; and door with all Santa’s little County elves pictured – and at the center of operations, County Administrator Santa himself – ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ …

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Local Government

Season’s Greetings from Front Royal’s Town Hall & the WC Courthouse

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A seasonal welcome to Town Hall, with office windows carrying on that theme – Photos/Roger Bianchini

And from across East Main Street in Historic Downtown Front Royal, seasonal greetings from both sides of the religious-secular fence at the Warren County Courthouse

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Upcoming Events

Jan
19
Sat
2:00 pm Musical Theatre MasterClass with... @ Youth Development Center
Musical Theatre MasterClass with... @ Youth Development Center
Jan 19 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Musical Theatre MasterClass with Cait Kelley @ Youth Development Center
Selah Theatre Project is proud to welcome Youth Award Nominated Choreographer, Cait Kelley, to teach a musical theatre masterclass at YDC. Inspiration for the next generation of performers! Ages 10 and up – they will[...]
2:00 pm Winter Clinics for WCGLLS @ Warren County High School
Winter Clinics for WCGLLS @ Warren County High School
Jan 19 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Winter Clinics for WCGLLS @ Warren County High School
Warren County Girls Little League Softball is proud to announce that Winter Clinics start Sunday, January 12th at WCHS. This is a great opportunity for one-on-one direction and coaching during our skill building activities! Winter[...]
Jan
21
Mon
6:00 pm Demystifying Digital Photography... @ Art in the Valley
Demystifying Digital Photography... @ Art in the Valley
Jan 21 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Demystifying Digital Photography: An Introduction @ Art in the Valley
Are you interested in taking photographs that tell a story, capture a moment, or express a feeling?  Do you want to learn about all the settings and options on your camera?  Today’s digital cameras are[...]