Editorial: Support Poppy Days, May 24 and 25, to help local military veterans and their families

May. 19, 2013 @ 11:02 PM

Area military veterans will be distributing poppies May 24 and 25 in observance of Sevier County Poppy Days. It is an event that deserves the support of the community.

The poppies are not sold. They are distributed, with donations appreciated. The veterans use the money to support other military vets and their families in Sevier County.

The poppies will be distributed and the donations collected by members of the American Legion Auxiliary 104 of Sevierville. You will find them at the following locations: Food City in Sevierville and Kodak, Smoky Mountain Knife Works and Kroger in Sevierville.

The story of the poppies is interesting and remarkable. From the battlefields of World War I, soldiers brought home the memory of a barren landscape transformed by wild poppies, red as the blood that had soaked the soil.

The poppy became a symbol of the sacrifice of lives in war, and represented the hope that none had died in vain. The American Legion Auxiliary Poppy has continue to bloom for the casualties of four wars, its petals of paper bound together for veterans by veterans, reminding America each year of the men and women who have served and died for their country.

Poppy Day has become a tradition in almost every American community. This distribution of the bright red memorial flower to the public is one of the oldest and most widely recognized programs of the American Legion Auxiliary. This poppy, as a memorial flower to the war dead, can be traced to a single individual, Monina Michael. She was so moved by Col. McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” that she wrote a response:

...the blood of heroes never dies

But lends a luster to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

On impulse, she bought a bouquet of poppies — all New York City’s Wanamaker’s Department Store had — and handed them to businessmen meeting at the New York YMCA where she worked. She asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen. That was November 1918. Later, she would spearhead a campaign that would result in the adoption of the poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice.

Help keep this wonderful and meaningful tradition going on May 24 and 25.