Buddy Poppies

The History of the Buddy Poppy

The buddy poppy or remembrance poppy has been used since 1922 to commemorate military service members who have died in war. Although the practice originated in America with the American Legion, other military veteran organizations around the world have adopted the remembrance poppy, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand.

The remembrance poppies are modeled after the common poppy, and inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by John McCrae. The poem refers to the fact that poppies were the first flowers to grow on the graves of soldiers in Flanders, an area near Belgium.

Moina Michael, in response to McCrae’s poem, wrote a poem of her own, titled “We Shall Keep the Faith,” and promised to wear a red poppy to remember those who died in war. After the war, Moina worked with disabled veterans and realized the depth of their financial aid, and came up with a possible solution: selling silk poppy replicas.

To pursue her idea, she showed up to the November 1918 YWCA Conference with a silk poppy pinned to her jacket and distributed similar flowers to other attendants. At the conference, a Frenchwoman named Ana Guerin, took up the idea and set up a network of poppysellers, and the process became widely accepted.

Remembrance poppies are now a trademark of the VFW and continue to be a source of income for disabled veterans today.

The poem that inspired the remembrance poppies, “In Flanders Fields,” is reprinted here, as well as Moina Michael’s poem, “We Shall Keep the Faith.”

In Flanders Fields:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky

The 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 ye break faith with us who die,

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields

 

 

We Shall Keep the Faith:

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,

Sleep sweet – to rise anew!

We caught the torch you threw

And holding high, we keep the Faith

With All who died.

 

We cherish, too, the poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led;

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies,

But lends a lustre to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

In Flanders Fields.

 

And now the Torch and Poppy Red

We wear in honor of our dead.

Fear not that ye have died for naught;

We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought

In Flanders Fields.

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