History of the Remembrance Poppy
The remembrance poppy was inspired by the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields". Its opening lines refer to the many poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers' graves in Flanders, a region of Belgium. It is written from the point of view of the dead soldiers and, in the last verse, they call on the living to continue the conflict. The poem was written by Canadian physician, John McCrae, on May 3 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend, a fellow soldier, the day before. The poem was first published on December 8 1915 in the London-based magazine Punch.
In 1918, Moina Michael, who had taken leave from her professorship at the University of Georgia to be a volunteer worker for the American YMCA Overseas War Secretaries organization, was inspired by the poem and published a poem of her own called "We Shall Keep the Faith". In tribute to McCrae's poem, she vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who fought and helped in the war. At a November 1918 YMCA Overseas War Secretaries' conference, she appeared with a silk poppy pinned to her coat and distributed 25 more to those attending. She then campaigned to have the poppy adopted as a national symbol of remembrance.
At its conference in 1920, the National American Legion adopted it as their official symbol of remembrance. Frenchwoman Madame Anna E. Guérin was invited to address American Legion delegates at their 1920 Cleveland Convention, about her ‘Inter-Allied Poppy Day’ idea. After which, they too adopted the poppy as their memorial flower and committed to support Madame Guérin in her future US Poppy Days. It was there that the American Legion christened her “The Poppy Lady from France”. In the US, she organised the very first nationwide Poppy Day, held during the week before Memorial Day in May 1921, using silk poppies made by the widows and children of the devastated regions of France.
When the American Legion reneged on the poppy, in favour of the daisy, the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ veterans supported Madame Guérin instead. Using French-made poppies, purchased through Madame Guérin, it was the V.F.W. that was responsible for organising the very first veterans’ Poppy Day Drive in the US, for the 1922 Memorial Day. In 1924, the Veterans of Foreign Wars patented the Buddy Poppy.
Madame Guérin's ‘Inter-Allied Poppy Day’ idea was also adopted by military veterans' groups in parts of the British Empire. After the 1921 Memorial Day in the US, Madame Guérin travelled to Canada. After she addressed the Great War Veteran Association veterans on 4 July, they adopted the poppy emblem and her ‘Inter-Allied Poppy Day’ idea too. They were the first veterans of the British Empire (now British Commonwealth) to do so.
Madame Guérin sent her representative Colonel Moffat (ex-American Red Cross) to Australia and New Zealand (and probably South Africa) afterwards. Then, Madame Guérin travelled to Great Britain, where she informed Field Marshal Douglas Haig and the British Legion about her “idea”. Because it was a poor organisation, Madame Guérin paid for the British remembrance poppies herself and the British Legion reimbursed her, after the first British Remembrance Day Poppy Day on 11th November 1921.
Madame Anna Guérin’s Remembrance Poppy and Poppy Days idea has been adopted by countries and organisations across the globe.
To learn more about Madame Guérin visit https://poppyladymadameguerin.wordpress.com/
As our Association is comprised solely of volunteers every penny donated from the our Empire Poppy merchandise will be used to further the three core objectives of the Ancre Somme Association.
1. Education - we will continually teach children and our communities about their local and National military heritage.
2. Remembrance - we will remember those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country from WW1 to the present day.
3. Support - we will continually support our Armed Forces charities and Ancre Somme Association projects.
The Empire Poppy is an original design commissioned by the Ancre Somme Association in 2018.
The artwork was the idea of Association members who worked with Snowhite Design to design, what we believe to be, an image that relays perfectly our thoughts about those brave men and woman who fought, and continue to fight, for the freedoms we all take for granted today.
The bringing together of the hearts, that comprise the Empire Poppy, is our way of remembering all those who through various wars and conflicts, left these shores never to return. Leaving behind families who were left with only memories of those they had loved and lost.
As so many from the British Commonwealth sacrificed their lives for others we felt that it was fiiting to use the verse from John 15.13 "Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Copyright ASA 2018
AA Veterans Support was established in 2011 to provide help, advice and guidance to those who serve or have served in the British Armed Forces and their families throughout Northern Ireland.
They deliver many vital support services in thier 'drop-in and training centre', which is situated just off the Crumlin Rd, Belfast. They also deliver outreach projects and welfare support to beneficiaries throughout Northern Ireland. The services they provide include counselling, respite, complementary therapies, employability support, support groups, benefits and housing advice and guidance, welfare assistance and more.
Could they help you?
Not sure if you are eligible for their help? It’s still worth getting in touch to see if we can.