OHIO VALLEY — As Memorial Day approaches, paper poppies begin appearing across the United States. Veterans set up at various sites the week before Memorial Day, offering a poppy in exchange for a donation, or just to offer a poppy to a passerby in remembrance of soldiers who died in battle.
On September 27, 1920, the poppy became the official flower of the American Legion family to memorialize the soldiers who fought and died during the first World War. In 1924, the distribution of poppies became a national program of the American Legion.
Poppies are used to remember those who have given their lives in battle because the flowers grew on the battlefields in Europe after World War One ended. The earth was scared from the weapons used during the fighting, so much so that nothing was growing, except for the red poppies that sprang up through the debris left from grenades, mines, artillery, mortars, poison gas, and the trodden earth from tanks and armoured vehicles.
Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was inspired to write “Flanders Field on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer who had died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae discarded it.
“In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London magazine Punch. The name comes from a common English name of the World War I battlefields in Belgium and France. It is one of the most quoted poems from the war.
The Pomeroy American Legion Auxiliary Post 39 has been active in the Buddy Poppy program for many years. This year the group will be collecting poppy donation Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28 from 10 to 4 at at the following locations: Farmers Bank, Pomeroy Peoples Bank, Middleport Home National Bank, and Weaving Stitches in Pomeroy, and from 10-7 at Powells Food Fair and Save-A-Lot. The Auxiliary will also be set up during the Meigs County Farmers Market from 10-1 on Saturday.
“Come see us for a donation and you’ll receive a poppy and shake the hand of an American Legion Post 39 member and listen to their stories, said Joann Newstrome, Post 39 Auxiliary president.
She encourages everyone to come and join them to learn more about our local veterans.
“The donations stay in Meigs County, ” Newstrome said. “They are used to buy our veterans in our local nursing homes Christmas gifts. We appreciate everyone’s support.”