Among all the flowers that evoke the memories and emotions of war is the red poppy, which became associated with war after the publication of a poem written by COL John McCrae of Canada. The poem “In Flander’s Field,” describes blowing red fields among the battleground of the fallen.
The VFW was the first veterans’ organization to adopt the poppy and develop a national distribution campaign. For more than 75 years, the VFW’s Buddy Poppy program has raised millions of dollars in support of veterans’ welfare and the well-being of their dependents. From the beginning, Buddy Poppy has received the support of the Veterans Administration and the endorsement and cooperation of all presidents since Warren G. Harding.
Today, VFW Buddy Poppy are assembled by disabled needy and aging veterans in VA Hospitals and domiciliary across the country and are sold at VFW Posts and their Ladies Auxiliary. The minimal assessment (cost of Buddy Poppy) to VFW units provides compensation to the veterans who assemble the poppies, provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans rehabilitation and service programs and partially supports the VFW National Home for orphans and widows of our nation’s veterans.
History of Buddy Poppy
“In Flander’s Field” describes a battlefield of crosses dotted with re poppies. The poem deeply touched the nation and the world, and, from that point on, poppies became known throughout the world as a memorial flower, a reminder of the lives lost in wartime.
“In Flanders Field”
By John McCrae:
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That larks, still bravely singing; fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If we break faith with us, who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.
Selling replicas of the riginal Flanders’ ppoppy originated in some of the allied countries immediately after the Armistice. In 1921, the France-American Children League began the first nationwide sale of poppies to benefit children in the devastated areas of France and Belgium.
Madam Guerin, who was recognized as the “poppy lady” from France, sought and received the cooperation of the VFW in 1922 after the France-American Children’s League was dissolved. The VFW conducted its first poppy sale before Memorial Day 1922 becoming the first veterans’ organization to organize a nationwide a nationwide distribution. The poppy soon was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
It was during the 1923 encampment that the VFW decided the VFW Buddy Poppies be assembled by disabled and needy veterans who would be paid for their work to provide them with some form financial assistance. The plan was formally adopted during the VFW’s 1923 encampment. The next year, disabled veterans at the Buddy Poppy factory in Pittsburgh, assembled VFW Buddy Poppies. The designation ”Buddy Poppy” was adopted at that time.
In February 1924, the VFW registered the name “Buddy Poppy” with the U. S. Patent Office. A VFW all trademark rights in the name of Buddy under the classification of artificial flowers. The VFW has made that trademark a guaranties that all poppies bearing that name and the VFW label are genuine products of the work of disabled and needy veterans. No other organization firm or individual can legally use the name “Buddy Poppy”.