Story of the VFW “Buddy” Poppy

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Poppies in Flanders Fields
stock image

Flanders Fields is the name of World War I battlefields in the medieval County of Flanders, which spans southern Belgium and northwest France.

The poem "In Flanders Field" is dedicated to the memory of those men and women who fought and died for the Allied forces in World War I. 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 (Veterans of Foreign Wars) 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.

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 


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”. 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.

Col. McCrae’s poem has survived in print and in the hearts and minds 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 volunteers from VFW Posts --- the VFW uses the proceeds to fund aid and assistance to disabled / needy service male/female veterans, homeless veterans and widows / orphans of deceased veterans.

--Post Commander Carl Christophersen, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Blackburn-Aurora Post 3348, Shoreline, Seattle, and vicinity.


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