How the American Legion Auxiliary’s poppy program benefits veterans

Getting to know the American Legion Auxiliary: Part 5

The American Legion Auxiliary has distributed poppies for nearly 100 years, and yet a lot of people don’t understand this flower’s significance.

The red poppy symbolizes the sacrifice of life made by many who fought for freedom – and the hope that none of them died in vain. That connection came after World War I, when the poppy flourished unexpectedly in Europe on battlegrounds and gravesites thought to have been barren. The churning of the soil, especially by the digging at the gravesites, seems to have been just what the dormant seeds beneath the ground needed to grow.

Rows and rows of these graves in the new cemeteries became awash in red color as these poppies burst into bloom, a spectacular site evoking heartfelt emotion. That is how the poppy became a representation of the ultimate sacrifice made by those fighting for freedom.

For decades, American Legion Auxiliary members have distributed red crepe paper poppies made by veterans. Veterans who make the poppies are paid a small stipend.

The ALA distributes the paper poppies to the public nationwide and accepts donations, raising $5-6 million dollars annually – with 100 percent of the money going directly to help veterans in need.

We’ve realized that, over the years, the history of the poppy is no longer taught in schools as it had been for generations. The ALA is trying to rekindle public awareness of the significance of this flower.

The American Legion Family (The American Legion, The American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion, and The American Legion Riders) has asked Congress to designate the Friday before Memorial Day as “National Poppy Day.” Now, Congress is poised to act on a recently introduced resolution to do that.

Click here to learn more about the ALA Poppy Program.

This is the fifth of a six-part blog series, Getting to know the American Legion Auxiliary. Read the other posts here: Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

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