BUDDY POPPY

BUDDY POPPIES
 

 
Origination
 
John McCrae enrolled with the Canadian Expeditionary Force following the outbreak of the First World War.  McCrae fought in the Second Battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium where the German Army launched one of the first chemical attacks in the history of war.  For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off,, nor our boots even, excepts occasionally.  Gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds.  Behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety the line should give way.
 
Alexis Helmer, a close friend, was killed during the battle on May2, 1915.  McCrae performed the burial service himself, at which time he noted how poppies quickly grew around the graves of those who died at Ypres.  The next day, he composed the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance. This location is known as the John McCrae Memorial Site.

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.
 
 

VFW PROGRAM  Before Memorial Day in 1922, we conducted our first poppy distribution, 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, as it remains today. 

During our 1923 encampment, we decided that VFW "Buddy"® Poppies would be assembled by disabled and needy veterans who would be paid for their work to provide them with financial assistance. 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. Today, our Buddy Poppies are still assembled by disabled and needy veterans in VA Hospitals.