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The Poppy Project

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 3:25 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Julianne Hansen is a Gold Star Mother, a designation bestowed after losing a child in military service. Following her loss, she turned her grief into action and once again this Memorial Day Weekend, her Poppy Project will help others who have also suffered a loss experience healing, by honoring men and women who have given what President Lincoln called, “The Last Full Measure of Devotion.”

Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,
Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,(wbrc)

Julianne remembers how it all began, “Tragically in 2017 our son passed away and as a part of my getting through that, we opened an art gallery and I never in a million years thought we’d be doing what we’re doing. Ever.”

Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,
Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,(wbrc)

Julianne and her husband Stephen began transforming a field in Downtown Prattville into their own Flanders Fields, a place immortalized during World War I.

Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,
Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,(wbrc)

“Lieutenant Colonel John McRae was a field surgeon, but he was also a soldier,” explains Julianne. “The injuries that were coming from these mortar explosions were absolutely ghastly and amidst all this carnage, these beautiful red flowers were growing. So, he penned this incredible poem, In Flanders Fields but a lot of people don’t really know what the tradition of the poppy is and that it has been adopted as the International Symbol of Remembrance.”

Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,
Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,(wbrc)

“Last year I just felt prompted to do this field of poppies and initially I was thinking about 500. I upped it to 1,000 without telling my husband and he said, ‘Wait! When did this go up?’“ laughs Julianne.

“Then we started hearing people’s stories, the stories of their loved ones, their family, their friends, their members of the military they served with, and we had no idea how therapeutic this was going to be.”

Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,
Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,(wbrc)

Again this year the field of poppies created by Julianne and her husband will be on display in downtown Prattville from Memorial Day Weekend through June 5.

“This year we’ve more than doubled the number of poppies we’re putting out in the field and we’re just excited about the opportunity show our respect and teach people a little bit more about what the Remembrance Poppy is all about. Allowing people to have another outlet to be able to remember those who have served and given everything.”

Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,
Poppy Project helps others who have also suffered such a loss experience healing,(wbrc)

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