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 The Red Poppy

The history of the Red Poppy originated in 1915. It was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields”, by John McCrae who realized that after four years of battle and an endless barrage of shells that churned the soil of the Western Front making conditions ideal for waves of poppies to grow and blanket the graves of our fallen soldiers.

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.

In 1918 a college professor named Moina Michael was so moved by the "In Flanders Field" poem she wrote and published a  poem called "We Shall Keep the Faith"

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Moina Michael vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in the war.

After the war was over, and realizing the need to provide financial and occupational support for our veterans, she pursued the idea of selling silk poppies on Memorial Day, and sold them to her friends and co-workers as a means of raising funds to assist disabled veterans.

In 1921, her efforts resulted in the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans by the American Legion and later many other veteran organizations.

Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922, the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans.

Sadly, Memorial Day is also the first official day of summer and most people use the three-day holiday weekend as a time to party, picnic, and have fun with family and friends.

However, in 2000, Congress passed a resolution called the National Moment of Remembrance which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.” 

It is a great way to remember and keep those who gave their lives for our freedom in our hearts.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 126 has added a new dimension to the red poppy with the introduction of the Viet Nam Poppy

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