To elevate community awareness and respect for our veterans by educating our membership and the public about the poppy’s significance and the financial benefit realized by our nation’s veterans as a result of its distribution.
Poppy Days (during the month of May) have become a familiar tradition in almost every American community.This distribution of the bright red memorial flower to the public is one of the oldest and most widely recognized programs of the American Legion Auxiliary. From the battlefields of World War I, weary soldiers brought home the memory of a barren landscape transformed by wild poppies, red as the blood that had soaked the soil. By that miracle of nature, the spirit of their lost comrades lived on.
The poppy became a symbol of the sacrifice of lives in war and represented the hope that none had died in vain. The American Legion Auxiliary poppy has continued to bloom for the casualties of four wars, its petals of paper bound together for veterans by veterans, reminding America each year that the men and women who have served and died for their country deserve to be remembered.
The poppy, as a memorial flower to the war dead, can be traced to a single individual, Moina Michael. She was so moved by Lt. Col. McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields,” that she wrote a response:
. . . the blood of heroes never dies
But lends a luster to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders’ Fields.
On impulse, she bought a bouquet of poppies – all that New York City’s Wanamaker’s Department Store had – and handed them to businessmen meeting at the New York YMCA where she worked. She asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen. That was November 1918. World War I was over, but America’s sons would rest forever “in Flanders’ Fields.” Later she would spearhead a campaign that would result in the adoption of the poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice.
The financial benefit realized by our nation’s veterans as a result of poppy distribution is huge; nearly 3.5 million poppies were distributed by units last year, raising $2.1 million. Children are involved in spreading the poppy message, too. Poppy Poster Contests are held in local schools for students in grades 2 to 12. The Miss Poppy Contest is a fun event for Junior Auxiliary members who develop local programs to promote the Auxiliary memorial poppy.
Meeting the continuing needs of our veterans should be the concern of every American who values his or her freedom. The Auxiliary promotes the poppy as a symbol of the sacrifices our military have made, a symbol to open people’s hearts and inspire them to donate.
American Legion Auxiliary
Unit 291 Newport Harbor
Service, Not Self
For our Veterans, Military, and their Families!
PO Box 11448
Newport Beach, CA 92658
215 15th Street
Newport Beach, CA 92663