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The Red Poppy

By Jane Whitmore - | May 27, 2021

Memorial Day is a time to honor the military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. We gather at cemeteries to participate in services hosted by members of the VFW and American Legion. We decorate the graves of military men and women, and we decorate the graves of our departed loved ones.

Reading the poem “In Flanders Field” is a part of many Memorial Day services.

In Flanders Fields

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.

The poem “In Flanders Field” was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a physician with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, following the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915.

In this poem, we are introduced to the poppies that grow in Flanders Field. Red poppies.

Why do the poppies grow so freely in Flanders Field?

According to the American Legion website: “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.’ “

National Poppy Day® is May 28, 2021 – the Friday before Memorial Day.

There seems to be a slight differentiation in the Red Poppy from the American Legion and the Buddy Poppy from the VFW. However, the message is the same. Wearing a red poppy is a symbol to honor the fallen and show your support for the living who have worn our nation’s uniform.

The tradition of wearing a red poppy has stood the test of time – celebrating 100 years in 2021.