Buddy poppies - a symbol of hope and faith in the war-torn world of World War I

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Rows of white crosses in the snow
mark the resting places of American soldiers
buried in Luxembourg
Photo by Jan Hansen

American soldiers who died fighting along the Western Front in Europe during World War I were buried there on the battlefields where they fought. The Western Front stretched from Belgium to Switzerland, going through three areas of Belgium and France known as the Flanders Fields.

In April of 1915, a battle weary Canadian soldier (Colonel John McCrae) viewed the final resting place of thousands of young men (some his former buddies) who had fallen in the 2nd Battle of Ypres in Belgium. Despondently he contemplated the rows of hastily dug graves --- each marked by a lonely white cross.

In sudden revelation, he heard the singing of larks in the sky, and amid the graves he saw patches of red, wild, poppies --- struggling through the battle-torn soil and the graves to bring their message of life amongst death.

Inspired, Col. John McCrae sat down and penned 3 short verses --- his poem “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.

                              --Colonel John McCrae

Poppy by Lee Lageschulte
Story of the VFW “Buddy” Poppy

His published poem brought a message of confidence to millions of people --- establishing the Flanders “Buddy” Poppy as the symbol of faith and hope in a war-torn world.

The poem is dedicated to the memory of those men and women who fought and died for the western forces.

The “Buddy” Poppy has become the true symbol honoring all those veterans who have given their lives in our nation’s wars.

Since 1922, the VFW has offered “Buddy” Poppies in exchange for donations to raise funds for its charitable programs on behalf of needy and disabled veterans, and the widows and orphans of deceased veterans.

Col. McCrae’s poem has survived in the minds and hearts of generations. The Poppies which provided his inspiration still bloom in Flanders Fields --- their message of hope has become reality through the VFW Buddy Poppy.

Every year, more than 13 million people donate for and wear a VFW Buddy Poppy to honor veterans. The VFW Buddy Poppies are made by patients in veterans’ hospitals in the USA. The work provides needed therapy for hands and minds crippled by the ravages of war, and the pay earned provides a few simple luxuries to ease the boredom of hospital life.

In keeping with its pledge “No one does more for veterans”, Buddy Poppy events are conducted exclusively by VFW volunteers --- the VFW uses the proceeds to fund aid and assistance to disabled/needy service men/women, veterans and widows/orphans of deceased veterans.


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