The red of the Poppy is meant to represent the blood each veteran shed when they gave their life. Sometimes black is seen on a Poppy. The black represents the mourning the loved ones endured when their soldiers did not return home. Finally, the green leaf on the poppy represents the grass and crops now growing, and the prosperity that came, after the war - even though the fields where battles were fought were destroyed.
If there is one thing to remember from reading this article it’s this - Remember the green leaf on the Poppy should always be positioned at the 11 o'clock position. This position represents the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - the actual time that World War One officially ended.
The idea of wearing a Poppy was inspired by a simple poem - a poem written by Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian surgeon with Canada's First Brigade Artillery during World War I. Colonel McCrae wrote his poem shortly after visiting an old battle field which had been transformed into a cemetery. Hit with sadness he needed to express his grief after seeing "row upon row" of graves - for all the soldiers who had died on Flanders' field - a major battlefield - located in western Belgium and northern France.
The poem he wrote created an image of what he saw - bright red flowers growing among the rows and rows of white crosses on the field. His poem about Flanders Field made the Poppy a rallying cry for all who fought in the First World War. Below Coloneil McCrae's actual poem:
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 Poppy, already a well known flower in all the allied countries - Britain, France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – was known as the "Flower of Remembrance." In 1922 the VFW adopted the Poppy as the official memorial flower at its national convention in Seattle, Wash. However in 1923, there was a shortage of Poppies so the VFW decided to rely on unemployed and disabled veterans to produce the artificial Poppies needed. Today, the VFW and American Legion Auxiliary sell roughly 14 million Poppies.
All the proceeds generated from the sales their Poppies go to help veterans, their widows, widowers and orphans all over the world. Amazingly, the Poppy itself still survives and grows each year in Flanders’s Field as a perpetual tribute to those who gave their lives for freedom so many years ago.
So this year during the Memorial Day weekend, if you see an old veteran or a beautiful woman standing outside somewhere selling Poppies try to make a point to buy one. There is no set fee required - a nickel, dime or quarter would be fine, but if you can – try to throw in an extra buck or two and please, please, please wear your Poppy correctly.
Note: Seldom, if ever, do I ever ask any post of mine be shared; but this is one post I respectfully ask you to share so people know about the significance of the Poppy.