NATIONAL POPPY DAY
The Friday before Memorial Day is the annual National Poppy Day. On May 25, wear a red poppy to honor the fallen and to support the living who have worn our nation’s uniform. To wear a poppy signifies absolute respect and gratitude on a personal level and is acknowledged mutually with the deepest of appreciation by those who truly understand its meaning. This is a great honor for the individuals whom the poppies represent, as well as, the persons wearing them.
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.
Led by the American Legion Auxiliary, each year members of The American Legion Family distribute poppies. Donations help to support the future of veterans, active-duty military personnel and their families.
Cheney-Armstrong Post #5 distributes poppies locally on Armed Forces Day which falls on the 3rd Saturday in May.
THE POPPY STORY
After World War 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. Though various legends have developed as to the inspiration for the poem, the most commonly held belief is that McCrae wrote “In Flanders Fields” on May 3, 1915, the day after presiding over the funeral and burial of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who had been killed during the Second Battle of Ypres. The poem was written as he sat upon the back of a medical field ambulance near an advance dressing post at Essex Farm, just north of Ypres. The poppy which was a central feature of the poem, grew in great numbers in the spoiled earth of the battlefields and cemeteries of Flanders.
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.
–Lt. Col. John McCrae