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Story Of The Memorial Day Poppy

On the battlefields of Belgium, during World War I, poppies grew wild on the ravaged landscape. The “poppy movement” was inspired by the poem, “In Flanders Fields”, written by a Canadian Army doctor named John McCrae. Some of the allied countries started selling replicas of the original Flanders poppy after the Armistice.

Moina Michael is credited as the founder of the Memorial Poppy in the United States. In November 1918, she was working at the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries Headquarters and was inspired by an article she read in a copy of Ladies Home Journal. The article carried a vivid color illustration for the poem, “We Shall Not Sleep” (later named, “In Flanders Fields”).

Moina was moved by the last verse where it said, “To you from failing hands we throw the Torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break the faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.” She made a personal pledge to always wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance. She went on to work with the American Legion and in 1921, the Auxiliary set up the Memorial Day Poppy program.

Every year around Memorial Day, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion Auxiliary distribute millions of bright red poppies in exchange for donations.

This program offers a number of benefits to veterans and the community.

It gives hospitalized veterans, who make the flowers, a way to earn a small wage. Also, the making of flowers can be therapeutic because of the physical and mental activity involved. All of the donations go directly to assist and support veterans and their families.

If you would you like to get one of these poppies, please check with your local American Legion or VFW post. This is a great cause and donations are gladly accepted.