Why We Wear Red Poppies on Memorial Day: Honoring Veterans

This weekend the United States will be celebrating Memorial Day. It’s more than the unofficial beginning of summer; it’s an important day to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. What you may notice around this time each year are the red poppies many don to pay homage to the fallen.

Here’s the short, but sweet, history of this bright flower and its ties to Memorial Day:

In 1915, an overseas war secretary named Monia Michael was reading her her Ladies’ Home Journal, when she came across the famous World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields.” Moved, she wrote her own poem and vowed to always wear a poppy. After returning to her professor position at the University of Georgia, Monia taught a class of disabled veterans and realized just how much support men like this needed. So she came up with the idea to sell artificial poppies to raise funds for America’s disabled veterans. Millions of people soon began wearing paper or silk poppies to wear as lapel pins on national days of remembrance.

The VFW first distributed poppies just before Memorial Day in 1922 and was soon adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. In 1924, the VFW registered the name Buddy Poppy with the U.S. Patent Office. Today, VFW Buddy Poppies are assembled by disabled and needy veterans in VA hospitals. The Buddy Poppy program provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans’ rehabilitation and service programs and partially supports the VFW National Home for Children.

So this Memorial Day, as you pin a Poppy to your shirt, take a minute to remember those who have given up so much for this country.

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