Brightmore University was excited to start the month off with well-known author, Marija Platace Futchs Fine, as she traveled to Wilmington just to speak at Brightmore. We are lucky that her cousin, Martha Beery, who lives at Brightmore invited her to come speak to us on her book and life history, “Wide Eyes”: A War Orphan Unlocks the Mystery of her Latvian Roots after 70 Years.” Marija travels all over to speak about her family history and we got to enjoy her story today. Baby Marija, separated from her mother in German-occupied Latvia in 1944 and events in the years before her arrival in the U.S. in 1949, were kept a mystery by the Soviet Union, until a Latvian “family detective” unlocked her family’s story in 2014. Her journey is an emotional one: one that started as she is separated from her parents at 13 months and sent to orphanages in Latvia and Germany, flown to America to be adopted by the family that raised her today. After years of research and speaking to family members, the discovery process opened Marija’s eyes to her identity, true to her family name Platacs, which means wide eyes.