A History of the Remembrance Poppy

poppiesYou may or may not have heard of the Remembrance Poppy—but you’ve probably seen it. These red-and-black poppies symbolize those who lost their lives in combat, and it was these same poppies that inspired a profound poem about a lost friend over a century ago that started the Remembrance Poppy movement.


During World War I, Canadian physician and soldier John McCrae discovered these very poppies growing around the burial site of his fallen friend, Alexis Helmer, in Flanders, Belgium. In his grief, McCrae penned the poem “In Flanders Fields”:

John_McCrae,_M.D.In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The poem was published in the British magazine Punch later that year, on December 8, 1915, and it became very popular: it was republished throughout the world as a way to honor soldiers’ sacrifices during The Great War.

Later, in 1918, Moina Michael, inspired by the poem, developed the idea for the Remembrance Poppy. It took her two years, but in August of 1920 convinced the Georgia Department of the American Legion to adopt the Memorial Poppy as its symbol. One month later, the Memorial Poppy was adopted countrywide as a symbol of remembrance.

Madame Anna Guérin championed the idea of selling artificial poppies and having the proceeds benefit people suffering from the aftereffects of the war. By 1922, the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Australia, and New Zealand had adopted the Remembrance Poppy.


poppywreathNow that you know more about the Remembrance Poppy, go ahead and make your own remembrance poppy wreath to display in honor of our veterans.

For more ways to honor veterans, visit www.americanlifestylemag.com/veterans.

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