Honoring disabled veterans with poppies

Poppy Days is proclaimed May 15 and 16; sold May 27 and 28 too

JASON CHANEY - Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe, third from right, read the Poppy Days proclamation on Tuesday during a city council meeting. Representatives from the American Legion Auxiliary and Veterans of Foreign Wars, shown here, were in attendance.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow; Between the crosses, row on row,” reads the opening line of Lt. Col. John McCrae’s 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields.”

In memory of the poem, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Auxiliary representatives distribute millions of red poppies nationwide, in May, in exchange for contributions that assist disabled and hospitalized veterans.

This year’s chair for the American Legion poppy sales, Rene Helms, claims a long-time family involvement with the event.

“I have been involved with Poppies for 15 years and my mother was a member of the Legion Auxiliary for 60 years until she passed away in January,” she said. “And, my grandmother’s involvement goes back to when the Auxiliary first started, after World War I.”

Helms explained that Legion volunteers will be set up at local stores throughout town on Friday and Saturday, Armed Forces Day, May 15 and 16. The Veterans of Foreign Wars will be out again on May 27 and 28 selling poppies as well.

“Flander’s field” refers to the battlefields of Belgium where wild poppies were overrun by war, and the flower has come to represent the ability to thrive amidst the death and destruction of the war.

The idea for using poppies as a veteran’s remembrance was originated by Moina Michael who lived in Athens, Ga., and taught at the University of Georgia.

While also working at the YMCA Overseas War Secretary’s headquarters in November 1918, she came across McCrae’s poem in a copy of Ladies Home Journal two days prior to Armistice Day, Nov. 11, generally recognized as the ending of the war on the Western Front of World War I. The war officially ended on June 28, 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, and Armistice Day is now synonymous with Veterans Day, while also being referred to as “Poppy Day.”

Helen Hisaw, vice president of the American Legion Auxiliary, said that poppies sold in Prineville come from Oregon-based disabled veterans.

“Donations received will mostly stay here in Crook County,” she said. “Those funds go into a restricted account to aid disabled veterans and their families.”

Hisaw said that funds have been used for a wide range of purposes including purchasing Christmas gifts and helping to pay electric bills.

“We had one veteran in Powell Butte that needed financial help for a dug well,” said Hisaw. “We also took 18 names off of the Holiday Partnership’s ‘Tree of Joy’ for disabled veterans.”

HiSaw wants everyone making donations to know that 100 percent of the funds collected go directly to veterans.

“The big thing is that the money stays here and that there is no overhead operating expenses that comes out of that money,” she noted, adding that a portion of the funds does go back to the veterans that assembled the poppies.

At Monday night’s Prineville City Council meeting, Mayor Betty Roppe read a proclamation naming May 15 and 16 and May 27 and 28 as “Poppy Days” in Prineville.

“I hereby urge the citizens of this community to recognize the merits of this cause by contributing generously to the support of Poppies on the days set aside for this distribution of these symbols of appreciation for the sacrifices of our honored dead.” Read Roppe.

Hisaw said that the Auxiliary is planning on distributing up to four thousand of the flowers over the two days.

“We do not sell the poppies, but we will gratefully take donations,” she said. “Mostly we want people to wear them to show their support of veterans.”


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  • 5 May 2015

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  • 6 May 2015

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