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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Remember the Buddy Poppy

By: Ernest McNeill
Ted Walt V.F.W. Post #12046 Commander
For 86 years, the V.F.W. has been distributing the renowned "Flower of Remembrance." Last year, V.F.W. posts gave out 12 million buddy poppies. This is a tradition the Marianna Post and all other posts want to perpetuate. Here is a brief history of the Buddy Poppy Program.
In 1915, Col. John McCrae of the Canadian Infantry picked up his pen and began, "In Flanders Fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row. The poem would long outlast its author.
In Paris, Anna E. Guerin, chose the poppy as a symbol of the wartime dead, the "Flower of Remembrance." In 1920, she and a host of volunteers made bright red artificial poppies. They distributed them to raise money for hundreds of thousands of French orphans and others made destitute by the Great War (W.W. I).
The "Poppy Lady" approached the V.F.W. and found a warm reception to handle sales in the U.S. In May, 1922, the V.F.W. began its first distribution of poppies made in France. Demand exceeded supply, so florists in New York made up the shortage. At the V.F.W’s National Convention in 1923, a plan was adopted to have Disabled Veterans assemble the poppies.
A factory was set up in Pittsburgh for that purpose. Doughboys, Marines, and Sailors called their friends "Buddy." So paper flowers with green-taped wire stems were called "Buddy Poppies." They were distributed by the thousands on Memorial Day.
In 1924, the V.F.W. was granted the trademark on Buddy Poppies and has owned that right ever since. That same year, assembly, and distribution branched to regions all across the country. Poppies are still put together in V.A. Hospitals and Veteran’s Homes.
"Buddy Poppies" have enjoyed broad popular support since their inception. American Presidents have had poppies pinned to their jackets by girls from the V.F.W. National Home for children.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s, leading Hollywood Actresses became "Buddy Poppy Girls," including, Jane Wyman, Doris Day, and Natalie Wood – all representative of the American Ideal "Girl Next Door." Distribution of poppies remains a staple of Veterans and Memorial Day activities. More than a billion Buddy Poppies have been distributed since 1922.
Under V.F.W. bylaws, the proceeds are funneled to the Post Relief Funds for distribution to Disabled Veterans, maintaining the National Home or similar facilities dedicated to the care of Veterans. Funds also perpetuate the memory of American’s war dead in the form of memorials.
Visitors today can still find poppies waving gently in the breezes among the crosses row on row in Flanders peaceful fields in Belgium.
The Marianna Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary will be holding "Buddy Poppy" drives in front of the Grocery Outlet and Wal-Mart on Friday, May 22, 2009. So come by and show your support for our Veterans.

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