Letter to the Editor

Wear a poppy, honor our veterans

To the Editor:

Poppy Day is coming this month of May and there is a meaning behind Poppy Day. The red poppy has served as an official symbol of remembrance for the American Legion Family for nearly a century. Millions of red crepe paper poppies made by Veterans as part of therapeutic rehabilitation have been distributed in exchange for donations that support the welfare of veterans, active military personnel and their families.

The symbolism in wearing a red poppy can be traced to the efforts of one woman, Moina Michael. In 1918 she was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae, a medical doctor. McCrae penned his famous war poem in 1915 for the funeral of a fellow friend and soldier, Alexis Helmer, who died during the Second Battle of Ypres. After reading “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michaels wrote a poem of her own titled “We Shall Keep the Faith.” The last stanza expressed her idea to wear a poppy.

“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 decided she would always wear a poppy to honor the fallen, and shared her idea with businessmen attending a conference at her workplace. They were so encouraged by the idea they gave her $10.00 and asked her to purchase poppies for them to wear – essentially the first time a donation was accepted in exchange for the small flower.

The following year, Michael’s efforts were recognized by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary when both organizations adopted the poppy as the national memorial flower during their annual conventions.

This month the American Legion Family is asking all Americans to wear a poppy on National Poppy Day (Memorial Day.)

In 1977 American Legion Auxiliary National President Norma Brown said of the poppy’s significance, “What we must keep in mind is that the basic purpose of wearing the poppy before and on Memorial Day is to honor our nation’s war dead. It is an individual’s personal gesture of remembrance of the sacrifice made by our fallen Americans.

In 2017 Congress passed legislation in support of National Poppy Day. Also, Poppy posters are made to ask the businesses to donate money and ask them to hang posters in their windows so passers-by see them to honor our servicemen and women.

Delores Mulligan

Volunteer of American Legion Auxiliary

 Post 123, Luverne.

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