Remember your poppies on Memorial Day

Remember your poppies on Memorial Day
Memorial Day is called Decoration Day in some places and by some people.

However, no matter what name it goes by, its principle purpose has been to honor the military dead of the nation. (It now remembers all who have passed away.)

It's a legal holiday in most states. But, I think of it as Buddy Poppy Day when most everyone wears a bright red artificial flower distributed by the ladies of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary.

Since it started in 1922 � the year I was spanked into existence � the VFW has delivered more than a BILLION of them � and that's a lot of flowers!

But it actually started earlier than that!

After World War I a Parisian gal in 1920 adopted the poppy as the "flower of remembrance" of the war-time dead. Anne E. Guerin rounded up a bunch of volunteers to sell erzats flowers to raise money for French orphans and others who were victims of the war.

It was a roaring success, and ultimately it came to the United States when it was picked up by the VFW � and now you know the rest of the story. Like the Statue of Liberty, it came from France, so leave us to dispense with our Franco-phobia.

The first flowers came from overseas, but the demand was so great that florists in New York had to make up the difference. That's when the VFW decided it would be better to have a domestic supply.

Who would be more qualified to make the American version of Mademoiselle Guerin's paper flowers" Disabled war veterans, that's who! And so that's how they were first made in a factory in Pittsburgh.

Since then they have been assembled by patients and residents in VA hospitals and veterans' homes. The first group called them Buddy Poppies because buddy was a name one doughboy called another � and the name stuck. So if you wondered why the VFW gals call them Buddy Poppies, you'll know!

This information was gleaned from the VFW Magazine which had this to say:

"Buddy Poppies have enjoyed broad popular support since their inception. American presidents have had poppies pinned to their jackets by girls from the VFW National Home for children.

"During the 1940s and 1950s, leading Hollywood actresses became 'Buddy Poppy Girls,' including Jane Wyman, Doris Day and Natalie Wood � all representatives of the American ideal 'girl next door.'"

Of the 11.5 million "flowers of remembrance" given out by the VFW last year, Phyllis and I wore ours with pride.

That's one way to celebrate Memorial Day!

� 2007 Robert F. Karolevitz

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