As we celebrate Veterans Day in November and Memorial Day in May, many Americans often wear a poppy to honor our military servicemembers. Here are a few facts you may not have know about the small red flower.
- After World War I, the poppy flourished in Europe. The red poppy flowers bloomed above the battle graves because the ground was cultivated (the soil was churned up and dug up for the graves and the same for the battle grounds) and that is what the dormant seeds that were beneath the ground all the time needed to make them grow.
- In 1918, Moina Michael popularized the idea of wearing a poppy flower in memory of the war dead. She was moved by Lt. Col. McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields,” when she wrote the following response:
… the blood of heroes never dies
But lends a luster to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Field
Michael later started a campaign to adopt the poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice. Read more here about Moina Michael and the war poem that inspired her.
- On Remembrance Day, the poppy is worn to symbolize the sacrifices made by servicemembers around the world during World War I.
- The American Legion Family passes out paper poppies on Memorial Day and throughout the year to raise funds for veterans. The red poppies serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by fallen servicemembers. The World War I Flanders Fields red poppy are worn world-wide on Veterans Day in the US (also known as Remembrance Day in the foreign countries remembering the sacrifices of their veterans).
- Poppies have a long history of being used to honor the dead, with them having roots in Greek and Roman mythology.
- The California state flower is the Golden Poppy in shades of apricot-peach-orange with delicate petals that are velvety in texture, similar to the WWI Flanders Fields red poppy, worn to remember the sacrifices of our deceased military veterans.
Note: Information provided by a thirty-year ALA member who has promoted the Flanders Fields Red Poppy for the same length of time and continually shares the story of its origin.