The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners presented the American Legion Auxiliary a proclamation, proclaiming the month of May Poppy Month, at their meeting on Tuesday, May 14.
Commissioner Stephen Weems presented the proclamation to representatives from American Legion Auxiliary Arick L. Lore Unit 274, which included Kathryn Rivers, president; Joyce Baki, secretary/historian and incoming president; Heidi Walls, membership chair; and Cheryl Miller, incoming secretary. In his presentation he noted, “the poppy signifies the feeling of reverence in our hearts for the servicemen who died for America during the two World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, Panama, Lebanon/Grenada Conflicts, the Gulf War, and the War on Terrorism.”
The story of the American Legion poppy begins with a poem. Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian physician, served on the front lines during World War I. He saw the devastation of war. In May 1915, he presided over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier, Lt. Alexis Helmer. His experience that day and its references to red poppies growing over the graves of fallen soldiers were included in a poem he wrote, “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 was published and Moina Michael, an American, was so moved after reading Lt. Col. McCrae’s poem, she bought a bouquet of poppies on impulse from a New York City department store, and began distributing 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. Later Ms. Michael would spearhead a campaign that resulted in the adoption of the poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice.
In 1923, the poppy became the official flower of the American Legion family in memory of the soldiers who fought on battlefields during World War I. The red poppy has become a nationally recognized symbol of sacrifice worn by Americans since World War I to honor those who served and died for our country in all wars. It reminds Americans of the sacrifices made by our veterans while protecting our freedoms.
The paper flowers are handcrafted by Veterans with the assistance of volunteers. The veterans are paid for their work, supplementing their incomes and making them feel more self-sufficient. The physical and mental activity provides therapeutic benefits to the veteran. One hundred percent of the donations collected from the poppy distribution directly supports the needs of veterans, military, and their families. The financial benefit to our nation’s veterans as a result of the poppy distribution is huge. There were nearly 3.5 million American Legion Auxiliary poppies distributed by American Legion Posts nationwide, with more than $2 million raised in donations.
Founded in 1919 to support the work of The American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary is recognized as the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. Auxiliary American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) members have dedicated themselves for nearly a century to meeting the needs of our nation’s veterans, military, and their families both here and abroad. They volunteer millions of hours yearly, with a value of more than $3.1 billion. As part of the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, ALA volunteers across the country also step up to honor veterans and military through annual scholarships and with ALA Girls State programs, teaching high school juniors to be leaders grounded in patriotism and Americanism.
May 24 National Poppy Day, American Legion Auxiliary Arick L. Lore Unit 274 will host a Poppy Table at Sneade’s Ace Hardware, Lusby, Maryland from 4-6 p.m.
May 27 Memorial Day Ceremonies
10 a.m. – Service at Solomons United Methodist Cemetery, Solomons, at the gravesite of Arick L. Lore, killed in action during World War I
10 a.m. – Service at Veterans Memorial Park, Chesapeake Beach
1 p.m. – Memorial Day Ceremony at Calvert County Courthouse, Prince Frederick
3 p.m. – American Legion Arick L. Lore Post 274 will host an open house. The public is welcome to learn more about the Legion family!
To learn more about the American Legion Posts, American Legion Auxiliary Units, Sons of the American Legion Squadrons or Legion Riders in Calvert County, visit or call:
Calvert Post 85
4290 Hunting Creek Rd., Huntingtown, MD 20639
Stallings-Williams Post 206
3330 Chesapeake Beach Rd. East, Chesapeake Beach, MD 20732
Gray-Ray Post 220
2106 Sixes Road, Prince Frederick, MD 20678
Arick L. Lore Post 274
11820 H.G. Trueman Rd., Lusby, MD 20657
For more information about the American Legion Auxiliary visit www.ALAforVeterans.org.
Joyce Stinnett Baki / Calvert Beacon Reporter