By Doris Elmore
Annual Poppy Days is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 17 & 18. At that time, you will see Atwood American Legion Auxiliary, James Reeder Post #770 members at strategic areas in town with small red poppies. For a donation, you will receive a poppy with information explaining the meaning of Poppy Days.
The wearing of a poppy means “honor the dead and help the living.” After WW I, the poppy flourished in Europe. Scientists attributed the growth to soils in France and Belgium becoming enriched with lime from the rubble left by the war. From the dirt and mud grew a beautiful red poppy. The red poppy came to symbolize the blood shed during battle following the publication of the wartime poem “In Flanders Fields.” The poem was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, M.D. while serving on the front lines.
On September 27, 1920, the poppy became the official flower of the American Legion family to memorialize the soldiers who fought and died during the war. In 1924, the distribution of poppies became a national program of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Hospitalized veterans quickly learned to assemble poppies while getting well again. Through the winter months, cut materials are delivered to those veterans in V.A. hospitals or nursing homes and soon boxes of bright red poppies are ready for a big distribution in May. When payday arrives, what a thrill to receive their pay for a job well done.
It should be a joy to wear a poppy made by a hospitalized veteran, when you know the money it brought him filled a desperate need. All money received during the distribution of these poppies is returned to the veterans through service programs of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary.
Do your part in supporting the veterans, be sure and buy a beautiful red poppy during Poppy Days.