Up to 10 million soldiers were killed in the First World War. It’s not known how many civilians died as well, but the estimate is 1.4 million. In 1919 the traumatized survivors of the war began to find their way home.
Everyone who fought in northern France and Belgium had noticed the extraordinary persistence and profusion of an apparently fragile flower: the cornfield poppy, which splashed its blood-red blooms everywhere over the fields every summer. It blooms there to this day, on the very fields where blood was shed but now the land has returned to the farming they were meant for, and from which the bones of the dead are still collected as the farmers’ ploughs uncover them.
The returning American servicemen made the red poppy their emblem. It was particularly associated with a poignant poem written by a Canadian doctor, John McRae who died in battle in 1915. It begins “On Flanders Field where poppies grow.”
The Veterans of Foreign Warms (VFW) conducted the first poppy sale before Memorial Day 1922, becoming the first veterans’ organization to organize a nationwide distribution. The poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. The VFW has made that label a guarantee that those poppies are genuine products of the work of disabled veterans. The poppies are still assembled by disabled and needy veterans in VA Hospitals.
The VFW Buddy Poppy program provides compensation to the veterans who assemble the poppies, provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans’ rehabilitation and service programs and helps support the VFW NATIONAL HOME FOR CHILDREN.
When you see Veterans this year outside your local store, please take a minute to stop, make a donation and thank the brave gentlemen for their service.
Remember we live in the Land of the Free because of the Brave
Wear your poppy proudly.