The Poppy, we all are fairly familiar with it and the basic idea behind it. Which is to support veterans and the heroes who fight for our land. But it is more than that, it’s about keeping the faith and remembrance, it isn’t a meant to be depressing symbol it is one of hope. But we often forget why.
Life has this way of getting in the way of important things and it is easy to forget and take for granted the freedoms we can claim in this great country. Which is why November is such an important month to remember why we have cause to wear the poppy.
The poppy was of course was inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ written by the Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John Alexander McCrae who was a field surgeon in the First World War. However it wasn’t as easy as liking a poem enough to decide to wear poppy in remembrance. It took two women from different parts of the world to actually get the poppy to where it is today.
Moina Belle Michael was a professor in the University of Georgia in the United States who came across the poem shortly before the war’s end and was inspired. She began by acquiring all the artificial poppies she could and began selling them. Then she went on to campaign for the poppy to be adopted as symbol of remembrance. It was two years later in 1920 when she convinced the American Legion to adopt the poppy as its symbol and only then did the poppy became the nationwide symbol of remembrance.
The second woman was from France, Madame Anna E. Guérin and she also was inspired by the poem. She then began with producing fabric poppies to be sold and the proceeds going to those suffering from the effects of the war, orphans in particular. But she did not stop there, then she began to travel to share her ambition to make the Memorial Poppy an international symbol. Travelling to Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The idea that the poppies could be sold to assist war veterans who had been wounded in the war was soon embraced by the American, Canadian and British Legions. The Great War Veterans Association of Canada in particular adopted the Memorial Poppy in 1921. And since then the poppy has sold in the millions and billions.
Nevertheless the poppy wasn’t meant as a symbol of death or war. It was meant as a symbol of hope and remembrance. A reminder for us to keep the faith and to remember to thank our heroes, the men and women who fight on our behalf to keep our land free. So wear a poppy and remember why you wear it.