Lest ye forget, as you prepare for a weekend outside enjoying friends and family, Memorial Day is not just about pulling out the barbecue, opening the pool and watching the town parade. It’s a time to remember those men and women who have sacrificed their lives serving our country.
A very popular symbol in remembrance of our service men and women is the symbol of the red poppy. We see them posted and pinned on lapels across the country. The poppy has a long association with Remembrance Day, but how did the distinctive red flower worn on the lapel become such a potent symbol of our remembrance of the sacrifices made in past wars? Why the poppy?
The beautiful flower does have a history all of it’s own, and it’s seems that it’s growing habit is one of the main reasons this flower has been adopted as a universal symbol of resilience and regrowth. The field poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is an annual plant, which flowers each year between about May and August. It’s seeds are dispersed on the wind and can lie dormant in the ground for a long time. If the ground is disturbed from the early spring the seeds will germinate and the poppy flowers will grow. In nature, scarlet corn poppies grow in conditions of disturbed earth. As this relates to war: this is what happened in parts of the front lines; once the fighting disturbed the ground, the poppy seeds lying in the ground began to germinate and grow during the warm weather in the spring and summer months. The fields would then fill up with beautiful red poppies after a battle had been fought. Perhaps, to some, remembering the bloodshed and sacrifice made in these very field during war time…
The poppy, in its many forms, is sold and worn as a lapel pin on Memorial day in honor of lives sacrificed. Funds are raised through the VFW and other war Veterans associations by selling The “Memorial Flower” lapel pin. The funds are then applied towards supporting those Vetrans in need of help, most especially servicemen and civilians suffering from physical and mental hardship as a result of war. Thus, the scope of the poppy and its connection with the memory of those who have died in war has been expanded to help the living too.
So, the poppy is a symbol of remembrance, but also of hope. Some liken their growing habit to the optimism for a world returned to peace after war. It is a flower that has many meanings. Whatever meaning you adopt, wear it proudly for our Veterans this weekend.
Have a safe and happy Memorial Day, enjoy & remember….and don’t forget to wear you red poppy lapel pin!