The common or field poppy, Papaver rhoeas, achieved prominence following World War I, with the wide publication of the John McCrae poem “In Flanders Field.” The artificial likeness of this bright red wildflower, known as the remembrance poppy, has been used to commemorate military personnel who have died in service to their country since 1921.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) leadership adopted the poppy as their official memorial flower shortly following their very successful first distribution, Memorial Day 1922.
In addition to elevating the poppy to national distinction, the VFW registered the trademark, “Buddy Poppy” in 1924 and mandated that all be assembled by disadvantaged or disabled veterans. The organization also determined that these veterans be compensated for their efforts, whether in the private sector or in-patients at VA Hospitals and VA Homes, therefore providing them with nominal financial assistance.
Since that 1922 distribution the VFW National Head Quarters has delivered over one billion Buddy Poppies to local posts. Donations received from residents and businesses not only helps to support the veterans who assemble them, but also goes to the state and national “Veterans Service Fund” and the VFW National Children’s Home.
Locally, the Cpl. James H. Smithson VFW Post 6710 will kick off its 2017 Memorial Day Buddy Poppy drive on May 26 and 27 at four local businesses — Wilmington Kroger, TSC, Dollar Tree, and Veracruz Mexican Restaurant on Locust Street across from the Municipal Building.
There will be volunteers at the entrances distributing Buddy Poppies and accepting contributions, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days.