Special Feature

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

A Brief History of the Artificial Poppy

By Lani Gering Each year around Memorial Day, Veterans of Foreign Wars members and American Legion Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of bright red poppies in exchange for contributions to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. The program provides multiple benefits to the veterans and to the community. The hospitalized veterans who make the flowers are able to earn a small wage, which helps to supplement their incomes and makes them feel more self-sufficient. The physical and mental activity provides many therapeutic benefits as well. Donations are used exclusively to assist and support veterans and their families. The poppy also reminds the community of the past sacrifices and continuing needs of our veterans. The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars. In the World War I battlefields of Belgium, poppies grew wild amid the ravaged landscape. How could such a pretty little flower grow wild while surrounded by death and destruction? The overturned soils of battle enabled the poppy seeds to be covered, thus allowing them to grow and to forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed during that and future wars. Madam Guerin, who was recognized as “the poppy lady from France”, sought and received the cooperation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. early in 1922, after the Franco-American Children’s League was dissolved. The VFW conducted a poppy sale prior to Memorial Day, 1922, using only poppies that were made in France. In the 1923 poppy sale, due to the difficulty and delay in getting poppies from France, the VFW made use of a surplus of French poppies that were on hand and the balance was provided by a firm in New York City…

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Special Feature

Erin Go Bragh- “Ireland til the end of time”

We here at the Old Town Crier love everything about St. Patrick’s Day including the history. We try to print this important information every year in the March issue and I am sure we  have missed a few but we think it’s important that our readers know that it is more than just a day for a parade and swilling green beer! BTW, there will be no parade in Old Town Alexandria this year and no self-respecting Irish person drinks green beer! Just Sayin’!   A Bit of St. Patrick’s Day History   St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.   On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.   The First Parade   The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.   Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called “Irish Aid” societies, like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums.   In 1848, several New…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE OLD TOWN CRIER!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE OLD TOWN CRIER! These last couple of years have been a bit trying and as hard as it may seem we all have something to be thankful for every day. On top of the blessings we enjoy with a roof over our head and food in the fridge we are thankful for all of you readers and advertisers – without you we wouldn’t be here! Contributors Thanks: I’m grateful for, in no particular order, mashed potatoes, vaccines, caregivers, medical personnel, my family, more mashed potatoes, second helpings of everything, yoga pants, a wealth of friends, and the best family a girl could ask for. – Lori Welch Brown, Open Space I am thankful and grateful to be living in the greatest nation in the history of our planet. – F. Lennox Campello, Gallery Beat I’m thankful for the health and good fortune of my precious family and friends. This year I am especially grateful for my new Chiweenie puppy, Max, who lightens every day. – Miriam R. Kramer, Last Word I’m so thankful for good music and good art and the people that create it. I’m also thankful for all the kindness people have shown me over the last year. Whether it’s from friends, family or a random stranger on the street. It’s always nice to see the good in people shine through. – Ron Powers, High Notes July 2021 marked the beginning of my 25th year with Crier Media Group.  Bob, Lani and I met in 1996 when the Olympic torch was coming to Alexandria.  They asked if I, a then-ACVA Board member would write a one-time only article recounting the event.  It is from that experience A Bit of History was born.  I am thankful a chance encounter has proven successful; for Bob and Lani’s giving me the time and…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Stingy Jack – The Legend of the Jack O’Lantern

Stingy Jack – The Legend of the Jack O’Lantern Halloween is a mix of ancient Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions that blended together over time to create the holiday we know today. Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity and life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Halloween has long been thought of as a day when the dead can return to the earth, and ancient Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts. The Celtic holiday of Samhain, the Catholic Hallowmas period of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and the Roman festival of Feralia all influenced the modern holiday of Halloween. In the 19th century, Halloween began to lose its religious connotation, becoming a more secular community-based children’s holiday. Although the superstitions and beliefs surrounding Halloween may have evolved over the years, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people can still look forward to parades, costumes and sweet treats to usher in the winter season. One of the most popular activities surrounding the celebration is carving jack o’lanterns. People have been making jack o’lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would…

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Featured Post, Special Feature

WANTED: MOM…Apply Within

WANTED: MOM…Apply Within By: Caroline Simpson Job Title: Mother. Requirements: must be willing to work overtime for no additional compensation. Necessary Skills: patience, fortitude, and super-human ability to multitask. Salary: none but must be able to provide monthly (at least) payments to clients. Travel: yes – lots. Benefits: bedtime and the one day a year that it is all about you! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!  If I was in charge, I would recommend you for a promotion and a raise, your service over the years has been remarkable.  However, since I do not play the CEO role in this family, I will take this opportunity to honor you by giving you an inside look at my new plans for this holiday. In all seriousness, Mother’s Day is an important holiday.  Allow me to provide a bit of the history for you.  The tradition dates back as far as the Greek Empire and their Annual Spring Festival; various religions and spiritual groups dedicated a specific day in May to celebrate the Mother Mary, Mother Earth, the Mother of All Deities, etc.  England expanded this honor to not just religious mother figures, but to all mothers, and the United States made it the celebration it is today about 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, mother and homemaker, decided that there were days for men and days for children, but there just was not a single day devoted to mothers alone. Anna would be proud.  Today, Mother’s Day results in the highest volume of telephone traffic over any other day of the year, restaurants are more crowded on this second Sunday in May than any other holiday, and, of course, Hallmark card sales increase dramatically. Well, this Mother’s Day, I want to do more than just buy a card.  I know that nothing…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Memorial Day and the Buddy Poppy

Compiled by Lani Gering Memorial Day and the Buddy Poppy In the World War I battlefields of Belgium, poppies grew wild amid the ravaged landscape. How could such a pretty little flower grow wild while surrounded by death and destruction? The overturned soils of battle enabled the poppy seeds to be covered, thus allowing them to grow and to forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed during that and future wars. Madam Guerin, who was recognized as “the poppy lady from France”, sought and received the cooperation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. early in 1922, after the Franco-American Children’s League was dissolved. The VFW conducted a poppy sale prior to Memorial Day, 1922, using only poppies that were made in France. In the 1923 poppy sale, due to the difficulty and delay in getting poppies from France, the VFW made use of a surplus of French poppies that were on hand and the balance was provided by a firm in New York City manufacturing artificial flowers. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was the first veteran organization to promote a nationally organized campaign for the annual distribution of poppies assembled by American disabled and needy veterans. In 1924, the VFW patented the name “Buddy Poppy” for their version of the artificial flower. Buddy Poppy proceeds represents no profit to any VFW unit. All the money contributed by the public for Buddy Poppies is used in the cause of veteran’s welfare, or for the well-being of their needy dependents and the orphans of veterans. Following the 1924 sale, the VFW believed it would stimulate local sales if the poppies they used were assembled by disabled veterans in hospitals within their own jurisdiction. The 1924 encampment of the VFW at Atlantic City granted this…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Spring of 2021 is the Big One

Spring of 2021 is the Big One Courtesy WLWT Channel 5 Brood X (aka The Great Eastern Brood), a group of periodical cicadas that emerge every 17 years, will tunnel out of their long dormancy and take over the area. This is the same buzzing and massive brood that became the soundtrack of the summer of 2004, their cacophonous mating song loud enough to drown out a passing jet plane. We’re talking billions of cicadas across 15 states – In addition to Virginia, Maryland and DC, Brood X will also emerge in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. That includes the major metropolitan areas of New York, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington, Nashville, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and others. There have been several questions about the cicadas. Here, we will answer some of your most frequently-asked questions. WHAT IS BROOD X? Let’s start from the beginning. In 2004 — a year when Tobey Maguire was still the reining Spider Man — the red-eyed Brood X cicadas last emerged, leaving behind billions of baby bugs. These baby bugs, heirs to the infamous 2021 Brood X, burrowed underground for 17 years, sucking moisture from the tree roots. Now, after 17 years, it’s their turn to shine. Now adults, they’re ready to come out of their slumber. Periodical cicadas, as they’re known, spend most of their lives underground. In the spring of their 13th or 17th year (in this case 17th), they will emerge synchronously en masse. Amorous males attract mates by rapidly vibrating drum-like tymbals on the sides of their abdomen to produce sound. They’ll shed their exoskeletons, attach themselves to branches, mate and lay eggs before dying off in about six weeks. The hatched nymphs then will drop off…

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Arts & Entertainment, Events, Special Feature

The History of the Holiday

The History of the Holiday St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage. The First Parade The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army. Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called “Irish Aid” societies, like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums. In 1848, several New York Irish aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world ‘s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants. Each year, nearly three million people line the one-and-a-half mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades including between 10,000 to 20,000 participants. No Irish Need Apply Up until the mid-nineteenth century, most Irish immigrants in America…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

More Than Just St. Patrick’s Day – March Holidays and Observances

More Than Just St. Patrick’s Day – March Holidays and Observances By Carol Bainbridge March is the month when spring officially begins and Daylight Savings takes root typically the second Sunday in the month. It can be a dramatic month with sometimes wild and shifting weather as Mother Nature tries to shed her winter coat. But as the seasons change from winter to spring, it’s the perfect time to review the special days, holidays, awareness weeks, and observances for March. You and your family can use March as an inspiration for learning more about health challenges and healthy habits. This is also a great month of the year to explore historical facts, interesting people, new concepts, hobbies, and all the things that make teenagers so awesome. And, of course, Easter and Passover sometimes occur in March and other times they don’t. 31 Reasons to Celebrate in March Here are all the special days and observances you can celebrate in March, from silly to serious and everything in between. March 1: National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, Fun Facts About Names Day March 2: Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, National Read Across America Day March 3: World Wildlife Day March 4: National Hug a G.I. Day, National Grammar Day, World Obesity Day, World Book Day March 5: Employee Appreciation Day, National Day of Unplugging* (first Friday of every March) March 6: National Dentist’s Day March 7: National Cereal Day March 8: International Women’s Day March 10: National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, National Oreo Cookie Day March 11: Johnny Appleseed Day March 12: Plant a Flower Day March 13: National K-9 Veterans Day, Genealogy Day March 14: National Pi Day, Learn About Butterflies Day, National Potato Chip Day March 15: The Ides of March March 16: Freedom of Information Day, National Artichoke Day, National Panda Day March 17: St. Patrick’s Day March 18: Supreme Sacrifice Day, National Biodiesel Day, Absolutely Incredible Kid…

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Arts & Entertainment, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, Special Feature, To the Blue Ridge

It May Be Time to Consider a Rural Lifestyle

It May Be Time to Consider a Rural Lifestyle By Shannon Gilmore and Meg Mullery Dream about moving to a rural area and owning a “farmette” or hobby farm with vegetable and flower gardens, chickens and even horses?  We live that dream every day in beautiful Western Loudoun where we enjoy our horses, dogs, cats, chickens, starry nights and stunning sunsets. Bookended by the Capitol and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Western Loudoun, Clarke, Fauquier and Rappahannock counties offer unlimited opportunities to turn your vision into a reality. And even start a small business for fun and extra income. For starters, owning horses is a commitment, but plenty of resources exist in the form of farm stores, feed and hay experts, vets, county extension agents, and other horse owners who will willingly answer questions and provide advice. Very briefly, size and location, barn/stable, and fencing need consideration  when buying an equestrian property or farmette. 1. Size/ Location • Ideally, horses require at least two acres per horse, although horses are kept on smaller acreage all the time. • County zoning must allow for the keeping of horses. • A tax break may exist if the property is in land use or conservation easement. • Does the property suit your desires? For example, can you add a riding ring or will you be happy just to care and enjoy them. • Water source in rural areas typically is a well. You want to ensure that water is accessible to the paddocks. 2. Barn/ Stable • What type and how many stalls will be needed to best suit your purpose? • Does structure have cold/hot water? Electricity? Storage for hay and equipment. Outdoor lighting? Effective drainage to ensure barn does not flood in a heavy rain. 3. Fencing • What is the type…

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