Each May, blood-red crepe paper poppies, distributed by the American Legion Auxiliary, become a common sight.
The red poppy has been a symbol of the fallen since World War I, when the flower began to bloom in great numbers on the battlefields of Europe.
The sight was immortalized in the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian soldier, physician and teacher. “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row,” his poem opens.
Since the poppy was adopted as the American Legion’s memorial flower in the 1920s, it has remained an iconic symbol of honor for the sacrifice of veterans who gave their all.
Last week, members of both the Maxwell American Legion Auxiliary and Princeton American Legion Auxiliary distributed the poppies at various locations in exchange for donations, which go toward assisting disabled and hospitalized veterans, as well as assisting active-duty military personnel and their families with medical and financial needs.
“All the donations go to veterans’ causes,” said Barbara Ladoucer, president of Princeton’s Auxilary Unit No. 98.
With 2017 marking the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War 1, the American Legion and Auxiliary hope America will adopt the poppy on a broader scale in order to better support veterans and their families.
On Friday, May 26, 2017, the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary launched the inaugural National Poppy Day in an effort to bring greater attention to the symbolism of the poppy, and greater support of all veterans, active-duty military and their families.
The American Legion has asked Congress for the official designation. ■