Members urged to follow local public-health guidance and consider new ways to share the meaning of the flower.
The American Legion Family’s annual poppy distributions – which raise funds for disabled veterans, military personnel and their families to honor of all who fought and died for the nation – are likely to be different in most communities this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and local restrictions.
“We understand it’s difficult this year for American Legion Family volunteers to distribute poppies as they normally would at storefronts and special events,” American Legion Auxiliary National President Nicole Clapp and American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford said in a joint statement. “It’s important to know that the Legion and Auxiliary national organizations encourage distributions, but at the same time we also ask volunteers to heed local officials’ directives on social distancing.
“The red poppy is a sacred symbol to remind us, as we head into Memorial Day, of those who gave their lives for our freedoms,” the commander and president added. “Their sacrifices cannot be forgotten this year, so it’s going to take some creativity and innovation to conduct local National Poppy Day® events May 22 and distributions over Memorial Day weekend.”
The American Legion Family offers some ideas for members to conduct poppy distributions in their communities, given the circumstances:
- Invite the public to a drive-by Poppy Day celebration at your American Legion post home, to include balloons and patriotic-themed giveaways ready to present, along with poppies.
- Offer veterans and their families red poppies when making Buddy Check calls.
- If your local post, unit or Sons of The American Legion squadron is conducting food-delivery services, consider distributing poppies at the same time, in exchange for voluntary donations. Volunteers can use social media to announce the distributions for those who would like to donate.
- Attend the virtual National Poppy Day® event via the American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters’ Facebook watch party on May 22 at noon EDT. Visit Facebook.com/alaforveterans for more information.
- Share on social media American Legion videos featuring Past National Commander John P. “Jake” Comer reciting “In Flanders Fields,” the World War I poem that made the red poppy the official flower of remembrance; and “We Shall Keep the Faith,” Moina Michael’s poem in response to “In Flanders Fields,” recited by American Legion Past National Commander and American Legion Auxiliary member Denise Rohan. Links to the videos can be found at www.legion.org/poppyday.
- Add to a worldwide virtual poppy garden on Instagram by posting poppy images and using the hashtag #poppyday
- If local directives make poppy distributions impossible or too difficult to succeed this month, consider hosting a beefed-up poppy event later in the year, after restrictions are lifted.
For more information, visit the American Legion Family National Poppy Day® web platform at legion.org/poppyday.
“Now, more than ever, American Legion Family volunteers should continue being a strong, visible force in their communities during these potentially isolating times of COVID-19,” the national president and national commander said. “Let’s unite the public and show them how much our veterans and current servicemembers mean to us. And when someone asks you about the poppy’s meaning, tell them, ‘For over a century, The American Legion Family has asserted that those brave men and women who wear the uniform, especially those who died in battle, will not be forgotten.”