Throughout the month of May, the American Legion Auxiliary and volunteers distribute millions of bright red poppies in exchange for contributions to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. Donations are used exclusively to assist and support veterans and their families.
The poppy also reminds the community of the past sacrifices and continuing needs of our veterans. The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor men and women who served and died for their country in all wars.
The poppy movement was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by
Lt. Col. John McCrae of the Canadian forces in 1915 before the United States entered World War I: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between 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 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.”
Miss Moina Michael of Georgia is credited as the founder of the memorial poppy in the U.S. The idea for the Flanders Fields memorial poppy came to Moina while she was working at the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries’ headquarters two days before the Armistice was declared on Nov. 11, 1918. Moina made a personal pledge to keep the faith and vowed to always wear a red poppy of Flanders Field as a sign of remembrance and as an emblem for keeping the faith with all who died.
In 1924, the American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy as the organization’s memorial flower and pledged its use to benefit our servicemen and their families.
The memorial poppy is never sold, but given in exchange for a contribution.