Each Memorial Day the men and women of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) can be seen about the country distributing Buddy Poppies. Many of us may be familiar with those handing out the small red flowers and simply donate out of the kindness of our hearts, but knowing the history of the Buddy Poppy will make this annual event dear to your heart.
The Buddy Poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower of the VFW in 1922. Originally inspired by Canadian Army Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem “In Flanders Fields”, the poppy was chosen to represent the blood shed by American service members during World War I. Since its inception, Buddy Poppies have been and are still assembled by disabled, hospitalized and aging Veterans in VA hospitals. The assembly of the Poppies is very therapeutic and provides exercise to hands and fingers crippled by wounds, disease and old age. The VFW pays the Veterans for their work, which provides them with additional income. The monies collected by the annual Buddy Poppy distributions across the United States are also used to provide financial assistance to state and national veterans’ rehabilitation and service programs and partially supports the VFW National Home for orphans and widows of our nation’s veterans.
Next time you see our faithful VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members distributing Buddy Poppies, don’t be so quick to overlook them. Buddy Poppies are truly about helping the VFW to continue their motto to “Honor the Dead by Helping the Living”.
In Flander’s Fields
By John McCrae
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.