Friday, May 26, is Remembrance Day; and you may see people selling red paper poppies around your neighborhood. There’s a long history of how The Red Field Poppy became an international symbol of those who have fought and died in war.
The red field or corn poppy (papaver rhoeas) flowers each year in May through August. The wind disseminates its seeds, which can lie dormant in the ground for a long time. If the ground is disturbed from the early spring, the seeds will germinate and the poppy flowers will grow. In the spring of 1915, the churned up World War I battlefields of France and Belgium and newly dug graves of fallen soldiers provided the perfect conditions for this “Miracle Flower.” In Flanders Field, Belgium, a Canadian soldier, John McCrae, noticed these flowers blooming amid the devastated landscape. He was moved to write the poem “We Shall Not Sleep” also known as “In Flanders Field.”
After reading the poem, Moira Michael, a YMCA canteen volunteer wrote her own poem “We Shall Keep the Faith”. Then and there she vowed to always wear a red poppy in remembrance. Working for the Staff of the Overseas YMCA Secretaries, Moira launched a campaign at her own expense to promote the poppy to honor the memory of those who had died in the service of their country and those who were returning with mental, physical and spiritual needs. Thanks to her efforts, the newly founded American Legion adopted the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy as the United States’ national emblem of Remembrance
A French woman, Madame Anna E. Guérin, founder of The American and French Children’s League, organized French women, children and war veterans to make cloth poppies, which could be sold to benefit people suffering from the war. She also spearheaded the effort to introduce the poppy to nations which had been Allied with France during the First World War. During 1921 she made visits or sent representatives to America, Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.
For more information and to read the poem, go the U. S. Department of Public Affairs website
We here at Power of Flowers appreciate the service of all men and women in all the conflicts over the years, and we never miss an opportunity to demonstrate this appreciation. This past Tuesday we delivered 72 bouquets to the Billerica Council on Aging to be used at their Veteran’s Appreciation Breakfast
We sincerely salute all the service men and women and their families. Have a safe and happy Remembrance Day and Memorial Day.