Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post of Elkin 7794 and the VFW Yadkin Post 10346, along with their ladies auxiliaries, will hold a Buddy Poppy fundraiser on May 22, 23 and 24 at the Elkin Walmart.
The Buddy Poppy memorial was inspired by Canadian Army Col. John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields.” In 1922, real poppies were collected by veterans from the fields of France and given by the Franco-American Children’s League to benefit children during WWI in devastated areas of France and Belgium.
The poppies often grew over the fields of buried soldiers on the soil of war as a poignant reminder of their sacrifice.
It wasn’t until later that disabled and hospitalized veterans began to make them as memorial flowers and soon they began to ship them for distribution and fundraisers.
They are known as the VFW’s official memorial flower, representing the blood shed by American service members since World War I. They have remained a symbol of remembrance used by the United States and other countries to honor those who have died serving their country during war.
For many veterans who return, the name Buddy Poppy is especially touching, since many have often lost “buddies” in the painful battles of war.
“There is no cost for the buddy poppy, we just accept donations,” said Quartermaster Sam Bishop, who served two tours in Vietnam.
“As a veteran, it means recognizing those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” added Bishop.
The upcoming buddy poppy fundraiser helps the VFW support a lot of programs, Bishop said. Primarily though, he said, the money is used to support veterans who need help.
“We appreciate everybody’s support to help veterans,” he said.
Last year, the VFW post used proceeds to build a ramp and a deck on the house of a disabled veteran. Proceeds also are used to help veterans in distress, and help them get to necessary resources for help. Other proceeds may be used to support the local JROTC, buy supplies for blood drives; or help in any worthwhile community projects such as Tri-County Ministries, said Bishop.
The VFW Post of Elkin 7794 also will have buddy poppies available at this year’s Memorial Day program, where they will recognize all veterans who have passed away, said Bishop.
Last year, the post took in more than $3,000 between the two drives and used some of the money to put flags on soldiers’ graves for Memorial Day.
Commander of VFW Post of Elkin 7794 Joe Hicks said the color red of the poppy represents to him the shed blood of soldiers who have died overseas in foreign wars and were buried there. He said the poppy is a reminder of their fight for freedom back home.
Hicks said it is important to raise money for local veterans and their families in need. It is something that can be done at home to help, he said. He said the buddy poppies’ significance is important to pass along to children, to help them understand.
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.