BUDDY POPPY DAYS
Next Scheduled Dates for Buddy Poppy Days - TBD
King Soopers - Baptist Road
To volunteer - call, text, or email Past Post Commander Joe Carlson - 405-326-2588 - firstname.lastname@example.org
In Flander's Field
by John McCrae
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.
From its inception, the Buddy Poppy Program has
helped the VFW live up to its motto, "to honor the dead
by helping the living." The Buddy Poppy - small red
flower symbolic of the blood shed in World War I by
millions of Allied soldiers in defense of freedom - was
originally sold to provide relief for the people of wardevastated France. Later, its sale directly benefited
thousands of disabled and down-and-out American
The poppy program actually got its start on the other
side of the Atlantic Ocean. Shortly after World War I,
Madame E. Guerin, founder of the American and French Children's League, became concerned that the free
world was "forgetting too soon those sleeping in
Flanders Fields." Inspired by Colonel John McCrae's
poem, "In Flanders Field," which spoke of poppies
growing in an Allied graveyard "between the crosses,
row on row," Guerin decided on the poppy as the most
appropriate memorial flower. She began attending the
conventions of any serviceman's organization that
would allow her to speak. Her request was always the
same - to enact the following resolution: "Be it resolved
that every member, if possible, and his or her family
shall wear a silk red poppy."
The poppy program was quickly embraced by the
people of France, and also secured the sponsorship of
the Prince of Wales, the Governors General of Canada,
Australia, and New Zealand, and the President of Cuba.
In each of these countries, veteran's organizations and
their auxiliaries agreed to sell memorial poppies for the
benefit of the children of France.
In April 1919, the "Poppy Lady," as Madame Guerin was
now known, arrived in the United States. She came to
speak in support of the "Victory Loan" - financial
assistance to help France's homeless and jobless get
back on their feet. While stateside, she asked the newly
formed American Legion to sponsor the poppy program
in the United States. At their second national
convention in Cleveland in September 1920, the
American Legion passed a resolution making the poppy
their official flower. At the next year's convention,
however, the delegates repudiated the poppy and
instead adopted the daisy as the organization's official
flower. Subsequently, Madame Guerin reported that her "deception was great on the 23rd of January  to
hear that the American Legion Auxiliary had taken the
Idea to sponsor FOR THEMSELVES the Poppy Day of the
When the Poppy Lady turned to the VFW for help, the
organization readily agreed to take over from the
American Legion. In May 1922, the VFW conducted the
first nationwide distribution of poppies in the United
States. Then, at its National Encampment in Seattle in
August 1922, the organization adopted the poppy as the
official memorial flower of the VFW.
Following the success of the VFW's first poppy sale, the
American Legion had second thoughts about its
withdrawal from the program.
A disgruntled American Legion was not the only
problem to plague the VFW's poppy program in the early
years. The American and French Children's League
(sometimes referred to as the Franco-American
Children's League) had been dissolved shortly before
the VFW's 1922 poppy sale. Much of the poppy supply
went with it. Consequently, the VFW had great difficulty
obtaining enough poppies for the 1923 sale.
From the frustrations of the 1923 sales year evolved a
plan to pay disabled and needy American veterans to
make the poppies. This plan was presented to the 1923
National Encampment for approval. Immediately
following the plan's adoption, a VFW poppy factory was
set up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. All veterans who
would be manufacturing poppies for the 1924 sale were
sent to a training workshop by the U.S. Veterans Bureau
regional manager in Pittsburgh.
It was from these early disabled poppy makers that the
name which would be the flower's trademark came. The
name just "grew" out of the poppy makers'
remembrances of their buddies who never came back
from war. Undoubtedly, because it expressed so simply
the deepest significance of the Poppy Plan, the name
stuck. All over the country, the little red flower became
known as the "Buddy Poppy."
In February 1924, the VFW registered the name "Buddy
Poppy" with the U.S. Patent Office. On May 20, 1924, a
certificate was issued granting the VFW, under the
classification of artificial flowers, all trademark rights
to the name of "Buddy." No other organization, firm, or
individual can use the name "Buddy Poppy." The VFW
has made this trademark a guarantee that all poppies
bearing that name and the VFW label are the work of
bona fide disabled and needy veterans.
After the 1924 sale, some of the larger state
departments of the VFW suggested that it might
improve local sales if the poppies used were made by
hospitalized veterans from their own area. The
delegates at the 1924 National Encampment agreed.
They ruled that poppies would now be made throughout
the U.S. by disabled veterans in government hospitals
and by needy veterans in workshops supervised by the
VFW. Currently the little red flowers of silk-like fabric
are assembled in eleven different locations. The VA
Facilities in which they are made are located in:
Leavenworth and Topeka, Kansas; Biloxi, Mississippi;
Temple, Texas; Martinsburg, West Virginia; Hampton,
Virginia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Dayton, Ohio; and White
City and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
From the start of the VFW's poppy program, the U.S.
Veterans Bureau, the Administrator of Veterans Affairs,
and other federal agencies have supported the Buddy
Poppy. And beginning with Warren G. Harding, U.S.
presidents have also been staunch supporters of the
program. Each year, a Poppy Girl or Poppy Boy selected
from the National Home's residents starts the annual
campaign by presenting the first poppy to the president
of the United States.
Today, there are strict rules governing how profits from
Buddy Poppy sales are to be used at different levels
within the organization. The National organization
assesses a tax of three and one-half cents on every
poppy sold to a state department. This tax is added to
the cost of manufacturing and distributing the poppy.
Tax revenues are allotted as follows: one and one-half
cents to the service fund of the department that
purchased the poppy, one cent to the VFW National
Home, and one cent to the Veterans Service fund of the
At the department level, an additional tax is normally
added to the cost of the poppies it sells to the posts in
its jurisdiction. This profit is used to fund department
service work or other programs for the relief or wellbeing of VFW members.
Posts receive their profits from direct sale of the
poppies to the public. National by-laws require that the
profits from these sales be placed in the post's Relief
Fund to be used only for the following purposes:
• For the aid, assistance, relief, and comfort of needy
or disabled veterans or members of the Armed
Forces and their dependents, and the widows and
orphans of deceased veterans.
• For the maintenance and expansion of the VFW
National Home and other facilities devoted
exclusively to the benefit and welfare of the
dependents, widows, and orphans of disabled,
needy, or deceased veterans or members of the
• For necessary expenses in providing
entertainment, care, and assistance to hospitalized
veterans or members of the Armed Forces.
• For veterans' rehabilitation, welfare, and service
• To perpetuate the memory of deceased veterans
and members of the Armed Forces, and to comfort
With help from the VFW, the "Little Red Flower"
continues to benefit the needy just as the Poppy Lady
believed it was capable of so many years ago. In 1989,
for example, 17,894,684 poppies were sold for an
average donation of 55 cents. To date, the VFW has
sold over three quarters of a billion Buddy Poppies. As
long as Americans continue to spill their blood in
defense of freedom, sales of these blood-red poppies
will undoubtedly continue strong.