Friday, May 22, 2020, we recognize National Poppy Day. The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars.
The story of the American Legion poppy began with a poem written by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian physician who served on the front lines during World War I. He saw the devastation of that war. After presiding over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier, McCrae would write a poem, “In Flanders Fields”, on his experience of that day and the visions of red poppies growing over the graves of fallen soldiers.
Published in a New York newspaper, Moina Michael was so moved after reading it, she bought a bouquet of poppies from a local 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 resulting 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. Creating the paper flowers also 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.
This year the Coronavirus Pandemic has caused the cancellation of many valuable American Legion programs and events. However, that will not stop from finding creative ways to honor our fallen heroes and support our military heroes.
While there will not be the normal ceremonies, ways to show your support include:
- Wear a red Poppy proudly! Many American Legion Posts will have the poppies available to you. There is no charge for a poppy, but if you would like to make a donation, the money raised through the Poppy Fund goes to assist disabled veterans.
- Post of photo of who you wear your poppy to remember. Share their story. Don’t forget to tag them #PoppyDay or #LegionFamily to spread their story.
- Plant a virtual Poppy garden on Instagram.
American Legion National Commander has a request. He wants to light up the night with candles. He is calling upon communities throughout the country to pay tribute to our nation’s fallen heroes at dusk on Memorial Day, May 25, by lighting candles of honor and placing them on your front porch.
- A red candle to remember the blood shed in battle for the protection of our freedoms.
- A white candle to keep our POWs and MIAs in our thoughts and prayers as we wait for their return home.
- A blue candle to salute the memories of those who made it home but are no longer with us.
He is hoping that this display will remind everyone that our resolve to honor those who served before us will continue even as social-distancing measures limit the ability to perform traditional Memorial Day remembrances.
Our fallen should be remembered. It is said that a man or woman is never forgotten as long as someone says their name. One only has to visit the Calvert County Courthouse to see those that have given their all for our freedom. Or visit our cemeteries to see the many men and woman who fought to protect us.
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.