Column: Poppies, poems honor vets

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Commentary by Beth Applegate

The Zionsville American Legion will participate in the Zionsville Little League opening day ceremonies April 14 by handing out poppies and copies of the poem “In Flanders Field” in the Sponsor Village at Lions Park. The Legion has a long history of honoring fallen veterans with poppies.

The American Legion brought National Poppy Day to the United States by asking Congress to designate the Friday before Memorial Day as National Poppy Day (this year it’s on May 25). On Sept. 27, 1920, the poppy became the official flower of the American Legion family to memorialize the soldiers who fought and died during World War I. In 1924, the distribution of poppies became a national program of The American Legion.

The red poppy is a nationally recognized symbol of sacrifice worn by Americans since World War I to honor those who served and died for our country in all wars. It reminds us of the sacrifices made by our veterans while protecting our freedoms. Wear a poppy to honor those who have worn our nation’s uniform.

After World War I, the poppy flourished in Europe. Scientists attributed the growth to soils in France and Belgium becoming enriched with lime from the rubble left by the war. From the dirt and mud grew a beautiful red poppy. The red poppy came to symbolize the blood shed during battle following the publication of the wartime poem, “In Flanders Fields.” The poem was written by Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D. while serving on the front lines.

Led by the American Legion Auxiliary, each year members of the American Legion family distribute poppies with a request that the person receiving the flower make a donation to support the future of veterans, active-duty military personnel and their families with medical and financial needs.

Beth Applegate is a member of the Zionsville American Legion Post 79 Ladies Auxiliary. For more information on the post, visit post79zionsville.com, email post79@att.net, call  317-873-3105 or search for Zionsville American Legion on Facebook.

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