Poppy Day is celebrated in countries around the world. The American Legion Family brought National Poppy Day® to the United States by asking Congress to designate the Friday before Memorial Day, as National Poppy Day.
On the Friday before Memorial Day, wear a red poppy to honor the fallen and support the living who have worn our nation's uniform.
The red poppy is a nationally recognized symbol of sacrifice worn by Americans since World War I to honor those who served and died for our country in all wars. It reminds Americans of the sacrifices made by our veterans while protecting our freedoms.
Led by the American Legion Auxiliary, each year members of The American Legion Family distribute poppies with a request that the person receiving the flower make a donation to support the future of veterans, active-duty military personnel and their families with medical and financial needs.
American Legion Family members can help. Use these resources as you make plans for your activities and events.
There are many ways individuals and groups can help bring greater awareness to this symbolic flower, honor our fallen and support the living heroes on National Poppy Day®.
Anyone can participate in National Poppy Day®. Here are a few simple ways:
Wear a red poppy all day and tell everyone why.
Distribute poppies to friends, co-workers and family and tell everyone why.
Tell the story of who you are wearing your poppy to remember or support. #PoppyDay
The American Legion Family has the support of Congress to designate the Friday before Memorial Day as National Poppy Day®, a day that encourages all Americans to wear a red poppy as a symbol to honor the fallen and support the living heroes who have worn our nation’s uniform.
National Poppy Day® is an initiative supported by the entire American Legion Family, which includes The American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of The American Legion, and the American Legion Riders.
After World War I, the poppy flourished in Europe. Scientists attributed the growth to soils in France and Belgium becoming enriched with lime from the rubble left by the war. The red poppy came to symbolize the blood shed by those who fought and those who continue to fight for our country following the publication of the wartime poem “In Flanders Fields.” The poem was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, M.D. while serving on the front line in World War I, to honor soldiers killed in battle.
The poppy became the memorial flower of The American Legion Family on September 27, 1920, in Cleveland, Ohio.
The mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad.
Each year, members of The American Legion Family, led by the American Legion Auxiliary, distribute poppies with a request that the person receiving the flower make a donation. Proceeds from the sale of items such as jewelry and other themed merchandise also benefit the mission to support the future of veterans, active-duty military personnel and their families with medical and financial needs.
Actor James McEachin provides a special reading of "In Flanders Fields" at the 2017 Veterans Inaugural Ball: A Salute to Heroes.
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.
–Lt. Col. John McCrae
Moina Michael was an American professor and humanitarian who conceived the idea of using poppies as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in World War I. In 1918, inspired by the Canadian John McCrae battlefront-theme poem "In Flanders Fields", she wrote a poem in response called "We Shall Keep the Faith". In tribute to the opening lines of McCrae's poem – "In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses row on row," – Michael vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in the war.
In 1921, her efforts resulted in the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans by the American Legion Auxiliary, and by Earl Haig's British Legion Appeal Fund (later The Royal British Legion) later that year.