SEPTEMBER 2, 1945 – VICTORY AND PEACE

A quote from my father’s writings –

“That historic Sunday 2nd September 1945.       The most publicly acclaimed event of that day was the official conclusion, after six long years of destruction, desolation and death, of the Second World War.

The world had for so long looked forward to the day when hostilities would cease and so, at last, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay in a solemn and awe-inspiring ceremony General (later, Sir) Douglas MacArthur and other dignitaries put their signatures to the Peace Treaty. Victory had been won at terrible cost but nevertheless – victory! Yes, Victory and Peace!

Strangely, and co-incidentally, on that same day, the American Rose Society, at a Rose Show (the date of which had been set long in advance when nobody could possibly have known what would be taking place on that day in Tokyo Bay) gave its supreme award, a gold medal, to a new rose named “Peace”. This most beautiful rose was the result of many years of painstaking work – cross-pollination, budding, experimenting, planting, seed gathering and re-planting, trial and error, trial and, indeed, more trial – by Francis Meilland, a French rose grower whose love of roses and dedication to the propagation of new varieties had resulted in the birth of the very first “PEACE” rose.

So well received by rose lovers all over the world was this glorious pale-gold, cream, ivory and carmine creation that in less than a decade after that gold medal winning occasion, it was estimated that thirty million “Peace” rose bushes bloomed all over the world and incomprehensibly, all from one little seed about the size of the head of a pin. After years of dedicated – and, so often, disappointing – labour, what a triumph for the hybridist!  What a Victory!”

I had my Father’s ashes (and later my Mother’s) placed in the cemetery Peace Rose Garden with a plaque honouring their lives.  Last year, with the roses in full flower and on a single day, I photographed the blooms in that garden to show the amazing colour variation.

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When sorting the books on my father’s bookshelves after he passed away in 1995, I came across Antonia Ridge’s book, For Love of a Rose.  Subsequently it was chosen for our monthly Book Club and all enjoyed it immensely.

A quote from the cover of the Book –

“The fine roses “Peace” and “Baccara” are famous throughout the world and Antonia Ridge’s true story of the Meillands and the Paolinos, who raised them, has an ever-widening circle of enthusiastic readers. She gives a fascinating picture of the early lives of ‘papa Meilland’ and Francesco Paolino, portrays wonderfully the indomitable Frenchwoman Grand’mère Jenny and resourceful Mamma Paolino, movingly recreates the setbacks and triumphs of the long painstaking effort to develop new roses, tells of the marriage that united the two families, and how the small stock of “Peace” was saved from destruction in the Second World War”.

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