Magazine article VFW Magazine

Remember the Buddy Poppy

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Remember the Buddy Poppy

Article excerpt

For 85 years, VFW has been distributing the renowned "Flower of Remembrance." Last year, VFW Posts gave out 11.5 million Buddy Poppies. This is a tradition well worth perpetuating. Here is a brief history of this meaningful program.

In 1915, Col. John McCrae of the Canadian infantry picked up his pen and began, "In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row." The poem would long outlive its author.

In Paris, Anna E. Guerin chose the poppy as a symbol of the wartime dead, the "flower of remembrance." In 1920, she and a host of volunteers made bright red artificial poppies. They distributed them to raise money for hundreds of thousands of French orphans and others made destitute by WWI.

She approached the American Legion to handle sales in the U.S. When the Legion Auxiliary seized on her idea to sponsor it for themselves, Mme. Guerin felt deceived. When the Legion confused horticulture with history and jettisoned the poppy for the daisy because it was "more American," she became angry.

The "Poppy Lady" approached VFW and found a warm reception. In May 1922, VFW began its first distribution of poppies made in France. Demand exceeded supply, so florists in New York made up the shortage. At VFW's national convention in 1923, a plan was adopted to have disabled veterans assemble the poppies.

A factory was set up in Pittsburgh for that purpose. Doughboys, Marines and sailors called their friends "Buddy." So the paper flowers with green-taped wire stems were called Buddy Poppies. …

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