Friday, November 10, 2006


November 11 is Veteran’s Day in the United States. Over the years many men and women from the various branches of the Armed Forces have given their lives to help America remain “the land of the free.” I am again privileged to help distribute Buddy Poppies for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the VFW Auxiliary, and as I reflected on the poppy recently, I decided to do some research on it. I was surprised to find it has such a long history.

The red poppy was immortalized as a symbol of the sacrifice of battle through a poem written in Ypres (now known as Ieper), Belgium by a Canadian Army physician.

In Flanders Fields
by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD

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.

The red poppy, the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, was first distributed in 1922. A year later the VFW decided to have the poppies assembled by disabled and needy veterans to provide them some financial assistance. When assembly began the following year, the “Buddy Poppy” was born. To this day, the assembly of the Buddy Poppy is done by disabled and needy veterans, and the distribution of the poppy provides assistance to various VFW programs, as well as to orphans and widows of American veterans.

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