30,000 flowers and a decade later, Elon continues support of Daffodil Project

The worldwide initiative aims to plant 1.5 million daffodils in remembrance of the 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust.

The Daffodil Project has planted over 963,000 daffodils in over 850 sites around the world to commemorate the innocent lives of children lost during the Holocaust.

And of those 963,000 bulbs that have bloomed into bright yellow flowers, Elon University has contributed approximately 30,000 daffodils since 2013. You’ll find them on East Haggard Avenue in front of Danieley Center, on North Williamson Avenue in front of the Oaks Neighborhood, and at Maynard House, the home of President Connie Ledoux Book. Those are just a few locations across campus now adorned with daffodils in support of the worldwide initiative.

“Part of the reason the daffodils were chosen for the project was for their yellow color, which symbolizes resilience and remembrance,” said Hannah Smith, coordinator of Elon’s Botanical Garden. “Also, for the fact its shaped like a star and resembles the yellow starts the Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust.”

Every year, Elon plants approximately 2,000 bulbs to add to the collection. They are replaced as needed, adding to the growing number on campus. This year’s batch has already been planted in the ground, meaning a new array of daffodils will hopefully begin to bloom toward the beginning of March.

Harley, an Australian Shepherd, stands near a bed of daffodils as his owners Hallie and Steve Petee, of Gibsonville, watch a few moments of an Elon University baseball game at Latham Park, February 24, 2023.

“The daffodils come back every year and kind of serve as a sign of hope and renewal and resilience of the human spirit,” Smith explained. Their resilience mirrors that of “the people who made it through the Holocaust and then went on to contribute and do really great things with their lives after such a dark period.”

The Daffodil Project is committed to spreading awareness of the Holocaust and genocide education through action-oriented programs, like planting, which Elon continues to support. Elon Director of Jewish Life Betsy Polk emphasizes the importance of spreading the word of campus events geared towards Holocaust awareness.

“Sometimes when something happens every year, you tend to lose the focus of it,” Polk explained. “So, it’s really important to remember it every single year and give it new energy.”

In addition to Elon’s involvement in the Daffodil Project, other events are scheduled for the month of February to commemorate the Holocaust. This includes a speaker event featuring Margot Lobree, a Holocaust survivor who will share her story at Elon on Feb. 13. Additionally, Elon celebrates an observed day of Holocaust commemoration called Yom HaShoah every April, where names of those who perished are read throughout the day outside the Mosley Center.