When The American Legion Family adopted the Poppy as its memorial flower in 1923, the blood-red icon became an enduring symbol of honor for the sacrifices of our veterans from the battlefields of France in World War I to today’s global war on terror.
The American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary passed resolutions in support of declaring the Friday before Memorial Day as National Poppy Day. The American Legion Auxiliary raises $5-6 million each year distributing Poppies throughout the nation, with 100 percent of the funds raised going directly to help veterans.
The red Poppy has come to symbolize the blood shed protecting Americans’ freedom following the publication of the wartime poem “In Flanders Fields” to honor soldiers killed in battle.
“In Flanders Fields”
“In Flanders Fields” is a war poem in the form of a rondeau, written during the First World War by Canadian physician and Lt. Col. John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer..
”In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
–Lt. Col. John McCrae
The popularity of the red Poppy began in November 1918 when Moina Michael bought a bouquet of Poppies on impulse and handed them to businessmen in New York. She asked them to wear the Poppy as a tribute to the fallen. Later, she would spearhead a campaign that resulted in the adoption of the Poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice. It became the official flower of the American Legion Family in 1923.
Veterans handcraft the flowers with assistance from unpaid volunteers. The veterans earn a small wage, which helps to supplement their incomes. A veteran can make as many as 2,000 to 3,000 Poppies a week. Volunteers do not sell Poppies. We distribute them with a request to the person receiving a Poppy to make a donation to support the work of the American Legion (Veterans) and American Legion Auxiliary (direct female relatives of veterans).
Our Ashville American Legion Auxiliary will be in town with Poppies on Saturday, May 18, 2019 from 10 a.m. until noon. All money collected stays in Ashville.
Please help us help the ones who have given so much for us.
Pamela Brown Elick,
Ashville American Legion Auxiliary Unit #730