The red poppy carries a rich history that dates back nearly 100 years. In 1918, Moina Michael popularized the idea of wearing a red poppy flower in memory of the lives lost in World War I. Michael drew inspiration from the poem In Flanders Fields, written by medical doctor Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae, while he was serving on the front lines.
Even in the darkest times, these flowers still find their way to the surface to bloom. Poppy seeds can lie dormant for years – yet bloom brilliantly when the soil is disturbed or dug up.
In the early 1920s, the red poppy became the official flower of the American Legion Family. Nearly a century later, it symbolizes the freedoms for which our veterans fought. After the battles fought in World War I, the poppy flourished across France and Belgium when battlefields became burial grounds.
Millions of people worldwide wear the red poppy today in honor of surviving veterans, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice in battle.
As a way to officially recognize our appreciation toward these heroes, the American Legion Family went before Congress in 2017 and successfully proposed that the Friday before Memorial Day be designated National Poppy Day®. This year, National Poppy Day is May 25.
After National Poppy Day was recognized by Congress, the American Legion Family successfully trademarked the name “National Poppy Day” in early 2018 for the Legion Family to use publicly. Trademarks serve to distinguish one brand from another and come to define the reputation of the brand in the minds of consumers. Trademarking National Poppy Day helps to establish The American Legion Family as the authority on all things poppy related. ALA departments and units are encouraged to use the trademarked ®symbol when using the name National Poppy Day on all communication materials. Just include the symbol on first reference within your press release or use the approved logo, found at poppydayusa.org, for all flyers, posters, and promotional materials.
In 2017, American Legion Auxiliary members throughout the United States distributed nearly 6 million poppies or poppy items, raising almost $4 million in donations that went directly to help veterans, military, and their families. That’s impact!
If you’d like more information and valuable resources about National Poppy Day, refer to the Members Only section of the national website, www.ALAforVeterans.org, to download the ALA Poppy Program Guide or the ALA Poppy Program Action Plan, or contact your unit, division, or department Poppy Program chairman.