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May is for poppies and remembrance - MessAge Media: Features

May is for poppies and remembrance

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Posted: Friday, May 10, 2019 5:00 am

May is a special month for remembering and supporting our veterans. Through a joint effort, poppies are provided and donations are requested by the McGregor VFW Post 2747 and the American Legion Post 23 throughout the McGregor area. McGregor Mayor Dake Olson signed a proclamation recognizing Poppy Days at the May 7 City Council meeting.

In May of 1915, a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who recently lost a friend and a fellow lieutenant in the war, witnessed the sight of bright red poppies flourishing in an unlikely place. The vision inspired him to write a poem entitled In Flanders Fields, which became famous.

The poem has been part of memorial ceremonies across the world ever since. Its references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict.

Lieutenant McCrae’s poem moved the heart of Moina Michael, an American professor, who was inspired to write her own poem in 1918 entitled We Shall Keep the Faith. After the war was over, Michael returned to the University of Georgia and taught a class of disabled servicemen. Realizing the need to provide financial and occupational support for these servicemen, she pursued the idea of selling silk poppies as a means of raising funds to assist disabled veterans.

In 1918, Michael made and sold red silk poppies, and a French woman, Anna Guérin, brought them to England. The Royal British Legion then ordered nine million of those poppies and sold them on Nov. 11, 1921, the year the organization was founded. The poppies raised a generous amount of money to assist WWI veterans in securing new jobs and housing.

Known as the “Poppy Lady” for her humanitarian efforts, Michael received numerous awards during her lifetime. In 1921, her efforts resulted in the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans by the American Legion Auxiliary and by Earl Haig’s British Legion Appeal Fund (later The Royal British Legion).

Today, this effort continues. Poppies are assembled by disabled and needy veterans, and the poppy program provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans’ rehabilitation and service programs.

Throughout May, area businesses in McGregor will display poppy cans where anyone may make a donation. During fishing opener and Memorial Day weekends, volunteers will be at area locations asking for contributions. “Honor the fallen and support the living by making a poppy donation,” said McGregor Auxiliary president Karen Reid. “This honors veterans and their sacrifice for our freedom.”

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