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Cheshire’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10052 will offer poppies to the public at Everybody’s on Saturday, May 3, and at Stop & Shop Supermarket on Saturday, May 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is no charge for the poppies, but donations will be gratefully accepted. The event is for the benefit of veterans and their families.
May, the month of Memorial Day, is the traditional time when the VFW offers the handmade red flowers made by disabled, needy and aging veterans. The sale originated after World War I. The poppy was made famous by the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” by Canadian doctor Lt. Col. John McCrae, who wrote it in 1915 after the terrible battles of Ypres, Belgium.
The scarlet corn poppy, a sturdy flower which blossomed on the makeshift battlefield graves hastily dug during the war, became a universal symbol of remembrance. Veterans’ organizations adopted it in honor of the war dead. They quickly realized that the demand for poppies could benefit disabled soldiers and families left in need by the war. Thus, the poppies, worn on lapels, are sold by veterans and volunteers around the world. Poppies still blossom in the once-bloody fields of Flanders.
Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day. It honored the dead soldiers of the Civil War, both Union and Confederate. Veterans and school children would march to cemeteries and place flowers on the graves of those who died in the war. Later the holiday was extended to honor all U.S. war dead. In 1971, by an act of Congress, Memorial Day was fixed on the last Monday in May.
The VFW, founded in 1899, is the nation’s oldest major veterans organization with nearly 2 million members. Anyone wishing to make a donation by check can make it out to VFW Post 10052 and send it to the post at 60 Pound Ridge Road, Cheshire, CT 06410.