The Poppy Program is the oldest and most widely recognized Auxiliary program. Each year around Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of bright red crepe paper poppies in exchange for contributions to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. The program provides multiple benefits to the veterans and to the community. The hospitalized veterans who make the flowers are able to earn a small wage which helps to supplement their incomes and makes them feel more self-sufficient. The physical and mental activity provides many therapeutic benefits as well. Donations are used exclusively to assist and support veterans and their families. The poppy also reminds the community of the past sacrifices and continuing needs of our veterans. Auxiliary members endeavor to explain the true meaning of this little flower to all those who receive it. The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn and used by Auxiliary members to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars.
Because our poppy is an emblem of sacrifice, those who love it every effort to teach the public the true meaning of the flower. In the season of Memorial Day, the poppy can make the indifferent public recall the sacrifices which have been made by the men and women who gave their lives that our country might be saved. This is the first and greatest mission of the poppy has been fulfilled.
The second mission is to win the confidence of the community through knowledge of the purposes for which the American Legion Auxiliary uses the money derived from the poppy distribution. The community should be reminded that the disabled men and women in hospitals, and their families are assisted by our poppy funds. The American Legion Auxiliary is continuing to keep faith with those who gave their all for our freedom.
Symbolism of the Poppy
The red petals stand for the vast outpouring of blood; the yellow and black center, the mud and desolation of all battlefields.
The green of the stem is symbolic of the forests, meadows and fields where generations of Americans have perished to make this land free.
The stem represents the courage and determination of our fallen warriors.
The assembled product, a flower, is a symbol of resurrection, which is sure to follow.
Only a Paper Poppy
Only some paper petals
With two leaves of paper, too.
Only a paper poppy,
Does it mean anything more to you?
The red is for the courage,
Of men who fought and bled,
And then came back to spend their days,
In the ranks of the living dead.
The green of the leaves reminds me,
Of the sunny hillsides over the sea,
When’ere rest the war torn bodies,
Of those who died that war might cease to be.
The cup that is formed by the petals,
Covers a heart of gold.
It stands for a labor of love
Whose value can never be told.
Only a paper poppy
But it holds the hopes and fears
Of numberless men and their loved ones
As they carry on through the years.
Poppy Facts – Did You Know?
That in the spring of 1919, amidst complete devastation, the poppies bloomed in abundance on the battlefields of France where so many of our men had fallen in battle, and that a replica of this poppy has become the Memorial Flower of the American Legion Auxiliary?
That The American Legion was the first national organization to adopt the poppy as its Memorial Flower, having taken this action at the national Convention in Cleveland, September 27-29, 1920?
That the American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy as its Memorial Flower at its organizing convention held in Kansas City, in October 1921?
That at the time the American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy, it pledged 100% of the profits from the poppy distribution to the welfare of servicemen and servicewomen and their families, thus fulfilling the true meaning of the poppy, an emblem of faith; faith which is being kept with all who died through service to the living?
That the American Legion Auxiliary, in order to protect the memorial poppy from the inroads of commercialism, adopted a national poppy program at the St. Paul Convection in 1924 which eliminated the commercial poppy?
That the memorial poppies are made of red crepe paper, by hand, by disabled veterans in hospitals and poppy workrooms in forty states, and that the workers receive pay for each poppy made, the material being furnished free by the Department in the state in which the hospital is located?
That the more than 25,000,000 poppies made by disabled veterans are distributed on the streets under the supervision of the American Legion Auxiliary by approximately 125,000 volunteer workers who receive no compensation?
That through the American Legion Auxiliary poppy program, more than $300,000 is paid annually to needy and disabled service men and service women for making the poppies?
That proceeds from the distribution of over 25,000,000 poppies annually under the guidance of the American Legion Auxiliary amount to more than $2,000,000, every penny of which is devoted to Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation work by both The American Legion and Auxiliary, which includes aid to needy veterans and their families? The method of distribution varies in each Department, depending upon the nature of the demands for help. Each of our 10,500 Units in communities scattered all over the United States, its territorial possessions, and in foreign countries where veterans reside, maintains a Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Committee working under a chairman, and a Children and Youth Committee with its chairman. These Unit chairmen are assisted by Department chairmen of similar committees, who in turn, work under the guidance of a National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Chairman and a National Children and Youth Chairman.
That the public is given an opportunity each year to help in the significant work of The American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary, as well as an opportunity to pay tribute to all who died in service, by wearing a poppy on Poppy Day?
In Flanders Field
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.
Why Wear A Poppy?
"Please wear a poppy," the lady said,
And held one forth, but I shook my head,
Then I stopped and watched as she offered them there,
And her face was old and lined with care;
But beneath the scars the years had made
There remained a smile that refused to fade.
A boy came whistling down the street,
Bouncing along on care-free feet.
His smile was full of joy and fun,
"Lady," said he, "may I have one?"
When she'd pinned it on, he turned to say;
"Why do we wear a poppy today?"
The lady smiled in her wistful way
And answered; "This is Remembrance Day.
And the poppy there is a symbol for
the gallant men who died in war.
And because they did, you and I are free -
That's why we wear a poppy, you see.
I had a boy about your size,
With golden hair and big blue eyes.
He loved to play and jump and shout,
Free as a bird, he would race about.
As the years went by, he learned and grew,
He was fine and strong, with a boyish smile,
but he's seemed with us such a little while
When war broke out and he went away.
I still remember his face that day.
When he smiled at me and said, "Goodbye,
I'll be back soon, Mom, so please don't cry."
But the war went on and he had to stay,
And all I could do was wait and pray.
His letters told of the awful fight
(I can see it still in my dreams at night),
With the tanks and guns and cruel barbed wire,
And the mines and bullets, the bombs and fire.
Till at last, at last, the war was won -
And that's why we wear a poppy, son."
The small boy turned as if to go,
Then said: "Thanks, lady, I'm glad to know.
That sure did sound like an awful fight,
But your son - did he come back all right?"
A tear rolled down each faded cheek;
she shook her head, but didn't speak.
I slunk away in a sort of shame,
And if you were me, you'd have done the same:
For our thanks, in giving, is oft delayed,
Though our freedom was bought - and thousands paid!
And so, when we see a poppy worn,
Let us reflect on the burden borne
By those who gave their very all
When asked to answer their country's call
That we at home in peace might live.
Then wear a poppy! Remember - and Give!
Uses of the Poppy Fund
WHEREAS, By Resolution 69 of The American Legion at its National Executive Committee meeting in April 1953, The American Legion did enact a mandate with reference to the use of funds derived from the distribution of poppies: and
WHEREAS, The American Legion Auxiliary has followed such mandates in the expenditure of such funds: and
WHEREAS, The recent enlargement of membership eligibility to include Vietnam veterans and our experience in the Hospital Volunteer program indicate that certain changes should be considered in this American Legion mandate; now , therefore , be it
RESOLVED : By the National Executive Committee of The American Legion, assembled in Indianapolis, Indiana, May 3-4, 1967, that funds derived from the distribution of The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary poppy shall be used for the following purposes only: