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Main - History - Buddy Poppy

 

Buddy Poppy

     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.

Buddy Poppy

     The VFW was the first veterans' organization to adopt the poppy and develop a national distribution campaign. For more than 75 years, the VFW's Buddy Poppy program has raised millions of dollars in support of veterans' welfare and the well being of their dependents. From the very beginning, Buddy Poppy has received the support of the Veterans Administration and the endorsement and cooperation of all presidents since Warren G. Harding.

     Today, VFW Buddy Poppies are assembled by disabled, needy and aging veterans in VA Hospitals and domiciliaries across the country and are sold at VFW Posts and their Ladies Auxiliaries. The minimal assessment (cost of Buddy Poppies) to VFW units provides compensation to the veterans who assemble the poppies, provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans' rehabilitation and service programs and partially supports the VFW National Home for orphans and widows of our nation's veterans.

History of Buddy Poppy

     "In Flander's Field" describes a battlefield of crosses dotted with red poppies. The poem deeply touched the nation and the world, and, from that point on, poppies became known throughout the world as a memorial flower, a reminder of the lives lost in wartime.

     "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae:

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.

     Selling replicas of the original Flanders' poppy originated in some of the allied countries immediately after the Armistice. In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League began the first nationwide sale of poppies to benefit children in the devastated areas of France and Belgium.

     Madam Guerin, who was recognized as the "poppy lady" from France, sought and received the cooperation of the VFW in 1922 after the Franco-American Children's League was dissolved. The VFW conducted its first poppy sale 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.

 

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Archie G. McArthur VFW Post 3783

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