Couple plant four acre poppy field for soldier son who died by suicide after tour of Afghanistan

In Fennville, Michigan, a field of flowers bloom in memory of a former soldier who died by suicide after returning from service in Afghanistan.


John and Joan Donaldson’s adopted son, Mateo, was a bee keeper at Pleasant Hill Blueberry Farm before his tour of duty in Afghanistan.

“He came home with PTSD and took his own life,” mom Joan said, as per reports.

“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. He’s not buried very far from this field.”

“It’s a four acre field and I plant the poppies in the fall,” said John Van Voorhees, co-owner and operator the farm. “Poppy seeds are like dust; there’s like 875,000 to a pound.”


Mateo’s grave is located just 200 feet east of the poppy field, and John and Joan say it gives them great solace to know that their son is watching over it.

Not only that, but other soldiers and former servicemen and women suffering from PTSD can (and do) seek peace there.

As per the Mateo’s parents: “A couple of other veterans have come to me and said, ‘I have PTSD, but when I’m standing out there looking over that field, I can feel so much peace.’”

Indeed, John and Joan encourage people to visit the beautiful field.

“We just ask that you don’t walk on the field and please don’t pick the flowers,” Joan said.

“Everybody is welcome to visit. I enjoy watching people’s reaction [to the field] when they’re here.

“I think, for the most part, we live in a world where people don’t provide enough beauty, or think about it, or how much it could mean to them. So, maybe when they encounter situation like this, they begin to realize how much they need it.”

What a beautiful gesture in memory of their beloved and precious son.

Share this article if you would like to visit this beautiful field one day or know somebody who should!


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