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How the Peace Rose survived WW II: A story that will make you smile

If plants could talk, the Peace Rose could tell a tale
as gripping as a World War II spy novel…

It’s also a tale of faith and grit. And it all came waltzing into the kitchen one day when Marty returned from the post office.

“I think you’ll like these,” he said, holding up a sheet of postage stamps. “See the yellow and pink rose?”

Though I couldn’t see the stamps from across the room, I saw enough. My heart swelled with an inner recognition. “Is it… is it a picture of a Peace Rose?”

“Yes it is,” he said. “How did you know?”

Creating a bestseller

I walked over to the bookshelf and pulled out a copy of Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul. I flipped through the pages until I found my favorite story, Of War and Roses, written by Carol McAdoo Rehme.

In 2000, I worked with a team of garden writers to write and produce Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul as part of the bestselling series by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. It was published in February 2001 and spent three months on the New York Times bestseller list.

 

Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul

Travel back in time: France, 1939

The story is about Francis Meilland, I told Marty. He was a rose breeder in France who had dedicated his life to these plants. He knew each one intimately.

One day, while strolling through his nursery, Meilland reached out to rub a particularly glossy leaf, its finely serrated edge curling slightly over his finger. “This is a masterpiece,” he thought.

The rose was unlike anything he had ever grown before. This plant produced the most beautiful blossoms.

How to smuggle a plant

Monsieur Meilland was anxious to experiment, to develop the rose further and give it a name it deserved. But it was 1939 and he was running out of time. Within months, the German Army had occupied northern France and was making its way toward Paris, attacking one town after another.

Pressed for time, Francis Meilland took cuttings from his beloved plant and methodically packaged and shipped three parcels to fellow plantsmen in Germany and Italy. A third package was entrusted to the U.S. consul, who took it with him as he left France and promised to send it to an American grower.

Cut off from the outside world

As the war raged, the rose breeder was cut off from communications with the outside world. No faxes. No cell phones.

Four long years passed. Then a letter arrived from a rose grower in Pennsylvania, praising the beauty of Meilland’s masterpiece. The bloom was delicate and unique with creamy yellow petals delicately edged with pink.

Peace Rose, war, history, rose, Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul
The Peace Rose, the world’s favorite rose, has a war-torn history. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Meanwhile, back in our Kodiak kitchen…

“This is a beautiful story, Marty. Mind if I read the rest of it aloud?”

“Sure, go ahead,” he said.

“His rose had survived. But, for Francis Melland, the crowning glory came later. On the very day that Berlin fell [April 29, 1945] and bells of freedom rang across Europe, rose growers gathered far away, in sunny California, at a ceremony to christen his splendid blossom. To honor the occasion, white doves were set free to wing their way across a sapphire sky.

“And, after so many years, the fragile rose that had survived a war finally recovered its name.

‘Peace.'”

Tears ran down my cheeks

My voice cracked and faltered. Tears ran down my cheeks as emotions flooded in. What’s this? Was the news bothering me? The suffering caused by war? Or maybe I was recalling my Mom’s death (which prompted me to submit Yellow Irises for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series).

I looked up at Marty and continued to read, slowly.

Monsier Melland’s Peace Rose not only survived against all odds, it remains a symbol of hope. Later in 1945, Peace roses were given to each of the delegates at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco, each with a note that read:

Peace rose, rose, world peace, WWII

Today the Peace Rose remains one of the most popular roses in history. I love that, because war and suffering continues to fester across the globe. And I believe peace will prevail.

Somehow it was fitting that the U.S. Postal Service created the Peace Rose as a Forever stamp…

Peace Rose, postage, stamp, Postal Service, USPS, Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul
Peace Rose Forever stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2018.

 

Thanks for stopping by. May you enjoy a lifetime of peace.

 

 

 

P.S. Do you think peace will prevail?

11 thoughts on “How the Peace Rose survived WW II: A story that will make you smile”

    • Kathleen Pearson
    • posted on August 26, 2018

    Oh, yes, I do believe that peace will prevail in the long run, even tho it might be far off for absolute world peace, as we humans count time. It has been foretold and I think we are in the birth pangs of it in present day.

      • marionowen
      • posted on September 5, 2018

      I believe peace is prevailing, Kathleen, in spite of what we hear on the news and social media. Love is stronger than evil. Period.
      Thank you so much for your comments… see? It adds to the positive-ness that the world craves!

    • Kathleen Pearson
    • posted on August 26, 2018

    This is my favorite blog that you have written, so far. I think I vaguely remember hearing that there was a peace rose, but I didn’t recall the whole story. Thank you for this timely reminder of that beautiful rose and the story behind it.

      • marionowen
      • posted on September 5, 2018

      It’s an amazing story about the rose, isn’t it? Perseverance, faith, all that rolled into a wonderful tale. Glad I could share it…

    • Ren
    • posted on August 26, 2018

    What a very lovely piece, it brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart.
    Thank you!

      • marionowen
      • posted on September 5, 2018

      So glad I could help bring a smile to your face, Ren. Love to you!

    • Deborah
    • posted on August 26, 2018

    Wow, great information.
    Thank you for sharing.

      • marionowen
      • posted on September 5, 2018

      You are most welcome Deborah. Glad you enjoyed it… I hope the rest of your summer goes well. I’m working on a new post… Cheers to you, Marion

    • Terri Breckberg
    • posted on August 26, 2018

    Thank you for opening your heart and sharing.

    • Candy Falatko
    • posted on August 26, 2018

    Thank you for this, Marion. Hope all is well. I just talked with a friend from Kodiak that filled me in.

      • marionowen
      • posted on September 5, 2018

      Thank you, Candy, for checking in. I’d started writing this post before our boating accident. And then, of course, put it on hold. When I got back to the computer, there it was, waiting for me. My head wound is healing, as is Marty and the boat, which we hope gets back in the water in the next few days.

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