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An Autobiography: Chapter 13, Message of the Sunflowers

Georgianna wrote many wonderful children’s stories, as well as serious pieces. Her essay, The Message of the Sunflowers, written in 1999, is her legacy, which she has left to the entire world.

In 1998, I conceived the idea for Symposium 2000-World Peace through Reverence for Life, celebrating the 125th anniversary of Albert Schweitzer’s birth and the 250th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s death. Vanderbilt University agreed to sponsor this 16-day event, and at the time, David Krieger, president and founder of the prestigious Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara, California, was on my Board of Advisors.

In 2005, I visited with David when I was in Santa Barbara for my Schweitzer-Bach production. The NAPF was one of the co-sponsors of the event, which also featured a program in the afternoon with Christiane Engel, Albert Schweitzer’s granddaughter, a concert pianist, with the Stern String Quartet from Prague, Czechoslovakia, in a program of Mozart.

S Bach Cover 

We were receiving the NAPF monthly newsletter, The Sunflower, and Georgianna saw this article in one of their issues:

Sunflowers have become the symbol of a world free of nuclear weapons. After Ukraine gave up its last nuclear warhead, the Defense Ministers of the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine met on a former Ukrainian missile base, June 4, 1996. They celebrated by scattering sunflower seeds and planting sunflowers. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry said, “Sunflowers instead of missiles in the soil would ensure peace for future generations.” 

I was producing a monthly newsletter for the Symposium – 27 monthly issues in all – and one night Georgianna wrote the “Sunflowers” essay. Most of her writings were done long after we went to bed. It was usually around midnight when she got up quietly and went to another room and put her thoughts on paper, always writing on a yellow pad, leaving her opus on the table for me to read at my breakfast. The next morning, I found the “Sunflowers” essay with a note that read: “Maybe you can use this in your newsletter.” A couple of days later, Robert Stone, my research assistant, came by to get her copy so he could type it for the newsletter. It was published in the Symposium Newsletter #10, November 1999, and got much response. David Krieger was greatly impressed. He also published it in the NAPF newsletter and put it on their e-newsletter, where it still remains on the internet.

Nuclear Age Sunflower 

Georgianna’s “Sunflowers” essay has been read by countless people throughout the world on the internet. I Googled the essay with Georgianna’s name periodically through the years and was always astounded to find the many websites on which it appeared. A recent check included the following, which featured Georgianna’s essay:

● MJ Reflections – a tribute to Michael Jackson. I urge everyone to view this site because it is absolutely beautiful and so well done. With the millions of Michael Jackson fans, there could be a million people reading the “Sunflowers” on that site!

● The Wisdom of Sunflowers – Happy Life U. On this site, there are beautiful photos of sunflowers, and the following copy with the link to Georgianna’s essay on our Tennessee Players web site:  

“BE PEACEFUL. Sunflowers are becoming a symbol of peace, particularly the elimination of nuclear weapons, based on the short story by Georgianna Moore called, “The Message of the Sunflowers, a Magic Symbol of Peace.” 

● Sunflowers by Liz on My Space. September 15, 2008. Beautiful photos of sunflowers with the essay. One comment was: “I was surfing for sunflowers … your writing very beautifully put. The sunflower has always been a strong influence for Native people. The wild sunflower is native to North America but commercialization of the plant took place in Russia. It was the American Indian who first domesticated the plant into a single-headed plant with a variety of seed colors, including black, white, red, and black/white striped.“

● Learning Peace. Naomi Drew’s Newsletter, issue #20. Ms. Drew is recognized around the world as an expert on conflict resolution and peacemaking for schools, work places and families. Here is what she wrote: “I offer you two wonderful stories that confirm the world of peace is not going hungry. The first is a story of peace called The Message of the Sunflowers, and it was written by a very special woman named Georgianna Moore, who recently passed away. This story is part of the vision and legacy Georgianna leaves to all of us. Please share her story with your children.” 

In 2001, a teacher in Germany saw the essay on the internet and wrote us, telling us that he was teaching a class in English and was using the Sunflower essay. And in 2006, a lady in Japan, Lucy Ishibe, was so inspired by Georgianna’s essay that she translated it into Japanese and did a beautiful painting of Sunflowers, and then had postcards printed, with copy on the back that read: “The Message of the Sunflowers” To Georgianna Moore, in memoriam.

Sunflower Painting 

Painting by Lucy Ishibe, 2006. 

April 12, 2002, Marlene Adler, Walter Cronkite’s secretary, called and said they were sorry to hear about Georgianna’s illness. She said that Mr. Cronkite had read Georgianna’s “Sunflower” story and wondered if it would be possible for him to talk to her. This hit me hard, as Georgianna had passed away nine days earlier, and it was very difficult to tell her. Marlene seemed shocked and said how terribly sorry they were. She apologized for not getting back to me sooner, when they got my earlier letter and the story, but she explained that Mr. Cronkite had been out of town and was just then sorting through his mail.

Walter Cronkite 

Walter Cronkite 

In 2002, David Krieger wrote to me, saying he was the editor of an important book – Hope In a Dark Time – being put together on peace that would be published in 2003, and he said they would like to include Georgianna’s essay. Georgianna was in the hospital when I got that message, and when I told her the news, she said, “Is it really that good?”

The Foreword in the book was written by Archbisoph Desmond M. Tutu, and was issued in both cloth and soft cover. Many important scholars and writers who are dedicated to peace, contributed to the book, including Queen Noor of Hussein; Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire; and His Holiness The XIVth Dalai Lama. One hundred copies were numbered and signed by the Archbishop and David Krieger, and I was given No. 1.

Hope Book 

Don’t Miss the Next Chapter: Sunflower Suite