In 1918, inspired by the poem,"In Flanders Fields," an American teacher named Moina Michael, who was working with the Overseas YMCA, wrote her own poem entitled “We Shall Keep The Faith.”
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.
How many of you remember the selling and buying of red poppies on Memorial Day?
Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France, she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war-orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries.
Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to sell poppies nationally. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans.
Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day.
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