Nov 062013

History of the Poppy

DO YOU KNOW YOUR POPPY HISTORY and how it came to be the ‘modern-day’ symbol of Remembrance?

DID YOU KNOW it was introduced by an American woman named Miss Moina Michael, who was inspired by what has now become probably the most recognised poem with reference to the Poppy (“In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow…”) written by a Canadian soldier JOHN MCRAE in 1915?

DID YOU KNOW it was Moina who campaigned tirelessly to have the Poppy recognised as a National Memorial Symbol and also widened the scope of the Memorial Poppy idea after she spent time teaching disabled ex-servicemen at the University of Georgia in 1919? – She believed it could be developed to help all servicemen who needed help for themselves and for their dependants.

DID YOU KNOW the American Legion (Founded in 1919 by American War Veterans) adopted the ‘Memorial Poppy’ in 1920?

On 29th September 1920, the National American Legion convened in Cleveland. The Convention agreed on the use of the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy as the United States’ national emblem of Remembrance.

DID YOU KNOW it was a French Woman by the name of Madame Anna E Guérin who, along with Moina, had attended the 1920 National American Legion Convention and determined to introduce the idea of the memorial poppy to the nations which had been Allied with France during the First World War?

During 1921 Anna made visits or sent representatives to America, Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

DID YOU KNOW the first British Legion Poppy Day Appeal was launched in 1921?

Anna Guérin sent some French women to London to sell their artificial red poppies. This was the first introduction to the British people of Moina Michael’s idea of the Memorial Poppy. Madame Guérin went in person to visit Field Marshal Earl Douglas Haig (Founder and President of The British Legion). She persuaded him to adopt the Flanders Poppy as an emblem for The Legion. This was formalized in the autumn of 1921.

The first British Poppy Day Appeal was launched that year, in the run up to 11th November 1921. It was the third anniversary of the Armistice to end the Great War. Proceeds from the sale of artificial French-made poppies were given to ex-servicemen in need of welfare and financial support.

Since that time the red poppy has been sold each year by The British Legion from mid October to to raise funds in support of the organization’s charitable work.

This article is attribute to the William Aldridge Foundation

By kind permission of Lucy Aldridge