The poppy as the memorial flower for the American war dead is a tradition which began in the years following the first World War. Veterans returning to their homes in this country remembered the wild poppies which lined the devastated battlefields of France and Flanders, and the soldiers of all nations came to look upon the flowers as a living symbol of their dead comrades' sacrifice.
A Canadian officer, Colonel John McCrae who was killed during the war, immortalized the flowers in his famous poem, "In Flanders' Field." Its opening lines are familiar to millions of people around the world,
"In Flanders' field the poppies blow,
Between the crosses row on row---"
Returning servicemen brought with them memories of the battlefield poppies, and the flower soon took on a sacred significance. The red blossoms became the flower of remembrance for the men whose lives had been lost in the defense of freedom. As a memorial emblem of the war dead, it underlined the plight of those men who did not die, but returned permanently disabled. The poppy soon became a symbol of honoring the dead and assisting the living victims of the war.
In 1924, a poppy factory was built in Pittsburgh, Pa., providing a reliable source of poppies and a practical means of assistance to veterans. Today, veterans at VA medical facilities and veterans homes help assemble the poppies, which are distributed by veterans service organizations throughout the country. Donations received in return for these artificial poppies have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers and orphans over the years. The poppy itself continues to serve as a perpetual tribute to those who have given their lives for the nation's freedom.
Donations received in return for these artificial poppies have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers and orphans over the years. The poppy itself continues to serve as a perpetual tribute to those who have given their lives for the nation's freedom.
Thank you to the American Legion and the Veterans Administration for photo and information.