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Michigan family plants poppy field to honor late son

FENNVILLE, Mich. (AP) — The sea of poppies a couple in central Michigan planted to honor their late son who was deployed in Afghanistan is bringing comfort to many visitors during moments filled with national unrest.

The seemingly endless field of red, white and blue flowers stretching across 4 acres (1.5 hectors) are in peak bloom in Pleasant Hill Blueberry Farm in Fennville, Michigan, and the owners are welcoming everyone to visit.

Joan Donaldson and her husband John Van Voorhees lost their adopted son Army Sgt. Mateo Donaldson to suicide in 2015 after he returned home with PTSD from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, WZZM-TV reported.

“We decided to create the poppy field in memory of him, because all these flowers feed the bees and butterflies, which he loved caring for so much,” said Joan Donaldson, who added that her son was beekeeper on the family’s farm.

Voorhees said he began planting the field two years ago on the farm he and his wife own and operate. His son’s grave is just 200 feet (61 meters) from the vibrant field.

Joan Donaldson said veterans have told her that they also have PTSD but that looking at the field brings them peace.

“It’s been a hard year,” said Donaldson. “Hopefully this field gives people a sense of hope and inner joy.”

She said the field has daily visitors and passersby who take photos and express the peace they feel.