Veterans Day Poppies

This richly hued flower has enormous symbolic value for the military.

Red poppies are our national symbol of sacrifice on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.

Red poppies are our national symbol of sacrifice on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Red poppies are our national symbol of sacrifice on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Poppies forever became a symbol of war-time death when Canadian military surgeon Lt. Col. John McRae wrote a poem about the sight of the brilliant flowers growing on a bloody World War I battlefield. The Second Battle of Ypres took place in the province of West Flanders, Belgium and the casualties were many, the destruction severe.

In the seventeen days of battle, heavy artillery uprooted the soil, causing poppies lying dormant in the field to bloom in great numbers across the war-torn meadows. Moved by the display of life anew juxtaposed against the carnage of war moved McCrae to pen the poem In Flanders Field to honor the sacrifice made by the brave soldiers who lost their lives there.

McCrae’s stirring poem has made the red poppy the national symbol of sacrifice and remembrance of those lost to the ravages of war since 1919, when Armistice Day (now called Veterans Day) was first established on November 11th, the day World War I formally ended the year before. Since then, the display of poppies on November 11th (known as Remembrance Day in other countries) to honor the sacrifice of lost soldiers has spread to other countries, including Canada, England and Australia.

In 1921, the American Legion Auxiliary established the poppy program. Each year or Veterans Day, which honors the service of veterans, and Memorial Day, honoring those lost in service, millions of paper poppies are handmade by veterans as part of a therapeutic rehabilitation program. Distributed throughout the United States, the donations given in exchange for the poppies are used to support hospitalized and disabled veterans.

On this and every day, our gratitude goes out to those who have served, those we have lost, and to those who continue to feel the impact of the sacrifices given for our country.

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