For some reason I don’t ever remember seeing the buddy poppies when I was young. I’m sure they were there, I just don’t remember them, but ever since I met my my husband the buddy poppy has become an important symbol in my life.
I remember the first time we encountered the buddy poppy together and my husband told me, “Whenever you see these, you get them.”
His Dad was a veteran and that’s the way it was and ever since then I do as I was told and it’s become tradition that every Memorial Day Weekend I am responsible for getting the buddy poppies at the grocery store where they are being distributed by veterans.
It’s my pleasure.
The site of the buddy poppy bouquet always brings a smile to my face and it saddens me when I see tons of people pass by the display and not even look twice. Maybe they already got their poppy, maybe they don’t know what the buddy poppy means, or maybe they have forgotten, and maybe they are too busy planning their long weekend to stop for a brief moment.
It saddens me to think it might be the latter.
In case your not familiar with the buddy poppy here is a brief history:
“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 conducted its first poppy distribution before Memorial Day in 1922, becoming the first veterans’ organization to organize 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 that VFW Buddy Poppies be assembled by disabled and needy veterans who would be paid for their work to provide them with some form of 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 certificate was issued on May 20, 1924, granting the VFW all trademark rights in the name of Buddy under the classification of artificial flowers. The VFW has made that trademark a guarantee 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.”
Today, VFW Buddy Poppies are assembled by disabled, needy and aging veterans in VA Hospitals and across the country and used by VFW Posts to compensate the veterans who assemble the poppies. Donations also provide financial assistance to maintain state and national veterans’ rehabilitation and service programs, and to partially support the VFW National Home for veterans’ orphans and widows.
So while we’re all out buying picnic supplies for our long holiday weekend and you happen to come across a buddy poppy bouquet, please take a moment and get one and when the veteran that hands it you says, “Thank you.” Just smile and say, “No, thank you.” and then proudly display your buddy poppy.