As Memorial Day approaches we think of the poem "In Flanders Fields" and the field of red poppies. But how much do we know about the poppies that we see Auxiliary ladies and young girls from the American Legion Auxiliary distributing?

In a pamphlet that I have from the American Legion Auxiliary is the story of the Poppy Lady Moina Michael. She was inspired by a poem in a magazine that someone had left on her desk at the YMCA where she was employed.

She would later pen the poem "We Shall Keep the Faith" as she read the poem "We Shall Not Sleep" and considered the last stanza to KEEP THE FAITH and to wear a red poppy in remembrance and the emblem of keeping the faith with all who died. That poem was later renamed "In Flanders Fields."

Michael searched throughout New York City to find poppies to place in vases of the rooms at the YMCA but found none. She finally found some at a department store and returned to the YMCA with one large silk one and two dozen small ones. She gave the small ones to workers at the YMCA.

The poppies that are distributed at this time of year are hand-made by veterans. The monies received are returned to programs in the communities that help veterans and their families. So if someone asks you to wear a poppy think of those who have made them and the gesture of remembrance of our fallen war dead and the supreme sacrifice they made for our country.

The ladies of Everett H. Hale Auxiliary Unit #68 in Spring Valley will be distributing poppies in the community on Friday, May 24.



In Flanders Fields

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly.



Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.



Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Col. John McCrae