- The Buddy Poppy
- VFW Facts & Figures
- Coast to Coast along the Medal of Honor Highway
- An Adventure, Life Lessons, & New Beginning
The Buddy Poppy
Have you ever asked yourself, “What’s the significance of the little red flower?”
It’s that time of year again.
In 5 days, service members of VFW posts (and other veteran organizations) throughout the country will stand (or sit) proudly at the entrance of your local coffee shop or grocery store, handing you that little red flower, universally known as the Buddy Poppy.
When you see the person wearing the recognizable “Overseas Cap” (adopted as part of the uniform for members of the American Expeditionary Force in February 1918), Buddy Poppy displayed on tables, and a canister inviting you to donate, you know Memorial Day Weekend is right around the corner.
Since 1922, VFW has distributed “the flower of remembrance,” or Buddy Poppy. Assembled by disabled veterans at locations in West Virginia, Kansas, Texas, and Oregon, donations assist needy and disabled veterans, active service members in local communities, and support activities encouraging patriotism.
The inspiration behind the Buddy Poppy came from a poem, “In Flanders Fields,” written by WWI Canadian Veteran Colonel John McCrae. This site in northern Belgium was the location of intense fighting during WWI and the final resting place of 368 U.S. Troops. The poem presents the image of bright red poppies blooming among the rows of white crosses marking the graves. Poppies grew well in the churned-up soil of the battlefield.
Inspired by the poem, the VFW approved the poppy as the VFW’s official flower in 1922. The first official Buddy Poppy was presented to President Warren Harding by Babe Ruth in 1923, and since then, over 1 billion Buddy Poppies have been distributed.
Sharing poppies is a staple of Veterans and Memorial Day activities nationwide.
VFW Fun Facts
—5,800 VFW Posts
—1.5 Million Members
—4.9 Million Volunteer Hours Contributed By VFW Members Annually
—$44.8 Million Donated Annually to Local Community Service Projects
—3.3 Million Buddy Poppies Distributed By VFW in 2021
—25,000 High School Students Competed in the 2021-2022 VFW Voice of Democracy Competition
—72,000 Middle School Students Competed in the 2021-2022 VFW Patriot’s Pen Competition
(Ask your local VFW representative about Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen. Writing | Patriotism | Scholarship $$$ )
The Medal of Honor Highway
When I opened my monthly American Legion magazine, the first article I saw was the announcement about The Medal of Honor Highway, a 3,365-mile stretch along U.S. Highway 20; honoring our nation’s heroes coast to coast (Sea to Shining Sea). I won’t lie. I immediately thought it would be so cool to cycle this route. Two Coast-to-Coasts are in the rear view mirror. They say good things come in threes. But I digress…
The twelve states that make up the route honor about 65% of the 3,515 recipients awarded the nation’s highest award for valor. This five-year effort was launched by two Oregon Legionnaires and many American Legion members helped persuade state legislatures to support the campaign. The overarching aim is for the U.S. Congress to pass a resolution designating U.S. Highway 20 as the National Medal of Honor Highway. A bi-partisan effort led by Senator Wyden from Oregon and Representative Kelly from Pennsylvania have agreed to sponsor the legislation.
Pictured Below: My son with retired Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor (MOH) recipient. He was awarded the MOH for his bravery in action during his time in Vietnam, serving with the U.S. Army on a mission in 1968. This picture was taken outside TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, NJ, in August 2015, an annual celebration of Veterans hosted by the Somerset Patriots.