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The Official Memorial Flower
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.
- John McCrae
In 1915, World War I Colonel John McCrae wrote the poem In Flanders Fields which expressed his grief over the "row on row" of graves of soldiers who gave their loves in battles. His words paint a vision of beautiful poppies (Papaver rhoeas) swaying slowly in the wind between the crosses. These poppies quickly became the symbol of remembrance for those who fought in WWI.
The poppy became a well-known symbol to allied countries â€” America, Britain, France, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Two women, Anna E. Huerin and Moina Micheal worked to initiate the sale of artificial poppies, called Buddy Poppy, with proceeds going to help orphans and others left destitute by the war. In 1924, an artificial poppy factory was established in Pittsburgh, PA providing a place for unemployed or disabled veterans to work. The VFW trademarked the name "Buddy" as an artificial flower, which guarantees any Buddy Poppy you buy since 1924 was hand-assembled by a disabled veteran in a VA hospital.
Today, veterans at VA medical facilities and veterans homes, veterans still assemble these symbols of remembrance. The Veterans of Foreign War distributes these small tokens every November for Veterans Day. Donations received from the distribution of these poppies have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers, and orphans over the years.
For Veterans Day, remember the poppy in your red-white-and-blue decorations. No flower evokes memories and emotions of war as much as the red poppy, it is truly the official memorial flower.