The American Legion Auxiliary in Fayette has announced that Poppy Day in Fayette will be Friday morning, May 19. Most have grown up seeing the bright red paper Poppies with their single leaf and little white tab, and that they are a fundraiser for the American Legion, but do we know the whole story of the poppies?
What is Poppy Day?
Poppy day has been recognized at different times by different cities and countries. The American Legion Auxiliary recently announced the intention of Congress to proclaim the Friday before Memorial Day as National Poppy Day.
Some countries use the poppy in Remembrance Day events in November. England creates a field of ceramic poppies around the tower of London each year.
What does the poppy represent?
The red representing the blood of all who have given their lives. The black represents the mourning of those whose loved ones did not return home. The green leaf, while not biologically correct, represents the grass and crops growing and future prosperity after the war destroyed so much.
Is there a correct way to wear the poppy?
The suggested way to wear the poppy is on the right, with the leaf positioned at 11 o’clock to represent the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the time that World War One formally ended.
Why the poppy?
The following story from the American Legion Auxiliary website explains.
From the battlefields of World War I, the poppy flourished in Europe and quickly became a symbol of the sacrifices made by Americans and allied service members around the world. Weary soldiers brought home the memory of a barren landscape transformed by the sudden growth of wild red poppies among the newly dug graves. Red as the blood that had soaked the soil. By that miracle of nature, the spirit of their lost comrades lived on. This inspired Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae to pen the memorial poem “In Flanders Fields.”
The poppy became a symbol of the sacrifice of lives in war and represented the hope that none had died in vain. The American Legion Auxiliary poppy has continued to bloom for the casualties of four wars, its petals of paper bound together for veterans by veterans, reminding America each year that the men and women who have served and died for their country deserve to be remembered.
The popularity of the red poppy as a memorial to those who sacrificed their lives in war began in November 1918 when Moina (pronounced mo-ee-na) Michael was so moved by Lt. Col. McCrae’s poem that she bought a bouquet of poppies on impulse – all that New York City’s Wanamaker’s Department Store had – and handed them to businessmen meeting at the New York YMCA where she worked. She asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen. WWI was over, but America’s sons would rest forever “in Flanders Fields.” Later, Moina would spearhead a campaign that resulted in the adoption of the poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice. In 1923, the poppy became the official flower of The American Legion Family in memory of soldiers who fought on the battlefields during WWI.
How does the poppy benefit anyone?
The American Legion Auxiliary raises $5-6 million each year distributing poppies. One hundred percent of funds raised goes directly to support active duty military, veterans and their families.
Volunteers do not sell poppies – they “distribute” them with a request the person receiving make a donation.
Above all, the poppies serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by generations of veterans since World War I.
Where does the Auxiliary get their poppies?
Veterans handcraft the flowers with assistance from unpaid volunteers. The veterans not only earn a small wage, which helps to supplement their incomes and makes them feel more self-sufficient, but the physical and mental activity provides many therapeutic benefits for the veteran. A veteran who devotes five to six hours per day assembling the red crepe paper poppies can make as many as 2,000 to 3,000 poppies in a week.
Hopefully poppies will never look the same. Hopefully they will become more meaningful to all.