Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Daffodil planting Sept. 11 will honor fallen
Brookwood students paying tribute to dead at Dr. Miller Park

by Steve Targo

August 11, 2011

GENOA CITY — Daffodils are special to Mary Ellen Kanthack.

Not just because the fourth-grade Brookwood teacher has her class plant them each year in various locations around the village. And not because, as it's plain to see by the yard surrounding her home, she loves plants.

For the 10th anniversary of 9-11, she used her adoration of the flowers and came up with an extension of an annual class project.

The fourth-grade class will host a memorial daffodil bulb planting Sunday, Sept. 11, at Dr. Miller Park.

The class and volunteers will plant 2,985 bulbs, each a yellow daffodil, each in memory of the estimated total number of deaths which occurred that fateful day.

"This was the biggest act of violence on American soil since, well, a lot of people say Pearl Harbor, but during the War of 1812, when the British fleet attacked us, we lost about just as many lives," Kanthack said during an interview Wednesday, Aug. 3.

Kanthack explained two reasons why daffodils play a key role in the event she's organizing to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001.

"I had a really good experience as a child in these woods near Woodstock and Bull Valley," she said. "They had naturalized the entire forest with daffodil bulbs. My mom and I would walk through the woods and I enjoyed them."

Kanthack said it was the mix of being in the woods and seeing the color of the daffodils which stuck in her mind since that time in her childhood.

She said it's her favorite flower, and there are yellow daffodil bulbs planted around her house.

"You know, every spring, these bulbs are going to come back," Kanthack said. "They weather the winter, so when they return, it's an event. It's joyful and serene at the same time."

As for the victims of 9-11, she said the daffodil is a great symbol by which to remember them.

Recently, Kanthack visited Ground Zero on a trip to New York City.

She said she went to St. Paul's Chapel and saw the Remembrance Exhibit.

"I was absolutely awestruck at the expressions of people from across the nation," she said. "The children who responded with letters and notes, words of support. It was so quiet in there you could hear a pin drop. St. Paul's is where George Washington went to pray after he was sworn in. How it wasn't wrecked after all the (damage done in the attack) is a miracle within itself."

But Kanthack revealed another motive for picking daffodils, one you'd suspect of a teacher.

"There's the science of it, too. ... You have to know which end of the bulb will blossom, which end is the root," she said. "It has to be buried at least 6 inches deep to keep it (protected) from frost and squirrels."

Kanthack said she believes children should be a little more in tune with the earth, too.

"If they can plant something and have to wait to see it bloom, there's an element they get from that they don't get from anything else," she said. "Everything is so immediate now."

A brief class project history

Giving children a learning experience which is beneficial is something Kanthack pursued while working toward her master's degree in 2001. She said she was studying the impact of teaching local history to children. Her studies indicated children who knew more about their community also became more involved.

Around that time, there was a significant change occurring within the village of Genoa City. Kanthack said there was an influx of new residents, so the need to teach local history was more apparent.

"Our curriculum teaches children about people who settled the community, about the architecture that's here and the development of the town," she said. "We take a history walk and kids can see how the Garden Club has beautified the community, how beautiful (Veterans Park) is."

Stops along that walk are previous daffodil bulb plantings from past classes. Kanthack said when she began the project nine years ago, fourth-graders planted 75 bulbs around Brookwood Elementary School. Previously, the class has planted bulbs in several other village locations, including Veterans Park, near 321 Fellows and the path through Dr. Miller Park.

As each year found Kanthack with her fourth-graders planting daffodil bulbs somewhere new, she said she had this memorial in mind since this project began.

"The people who lost these (victims) are still hurting," she said. "I think we need to remember them and as a community I think we can do that. This is what was always in the back of my mind."

The bulbs which will be planted Sept. 11 are yellow. She said it's because yellow is a "solid color" which represents "how we pulled together" as a nation.

Kanthack expects this project to have a lasting effect.

"Can you imagine almost 3,000 bulbs on the forest floor of the park? That's how it was when I was walking in the woods when I was little," she said. "And (in Dr. Miller Park) it will stay this way."