~ The Remembrance Poppy ~ A symbol of our commitment to our active-duty military and our veterans.
The red poppy became the symbol of the blood that was shed protecting American freedom following the publication of the poem "In Flanders Fields", written by Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD. He wrote this poem in 1915 as a way to honor his fellow soldiers who were killed in battle.
In 1918, Ms. Moina Michael was so moved by the poem that she bought a bought a bouquet of poppies and handed them out to businessmen who were meeting at the YMCA where she worked. She asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen. Later, she spearheaded a campaign that resulted in the adoption of the poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice.
In 1923, the American Legion Family adopted the poppy as our official flower, in memory of the soldiers who fought on the battlefields during WWI. The poppy is an important part of our organization's history and still serves an important role today.
Veterans handcraft our red crepe paper poppies with assistance from unpaid volunteers. The veterans earn a small wage that helps them be more self-sufficient. In addition, the physical and mental activity of poppy making provides them with many therapeutic benefits. A veteran who devotes five to six hours per day assembling poppies can make as many as 2,000 to 3,000 flowers in a week!
Our American Legion Auxiliary volunteers do not sell poppies, we "distribute" them, with a request that the person receiving the poppy make a donation to the poppy fund to support the Auxiliary's veteran outreach programs. The Auxiliary's distribution of poppies raises more than $5.5 million each year and 100% of the donations raised are used to support active-duty military, veterans, and their families.
So the next time you see a red crepe paper poppy, please take a moment to remember those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy today. Then, reach into your wallet and make a contribution to our poppy fund, a truly worthwhile cause!