To The Editor:

Each year, usually in April or May, you see citizens wearing little red crepe paper poppies. These flowers, the memorial flowers of The American Legion Auxiliary, are offered to you, the public, by volunteers of The American Legion Post No. 218, The American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of The American Legion and Legion Riders.

This year in the Washington area Poppy Days will be Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26. This is not just a local program, it is a nationwide program.

Do you know how the crepe paper red poppy came to be the memorial flower of the American Legion Auxiliary? We must go back to World War I, 1914-1918. The battlefields of Europe were trampled by the boots of fighting troops. As American troops advanced through the battlefields of France and Belgium, the only touch of life and beauty alive were the poppies that bloomed amid the rubble of war. They bloomed among the barbed wire and wreckage, and covered the graves of America’s fighting men and women who had fallen on the battlefields.

The American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy as its memorial flower at the organization’s first convention held in Kansas City in 1921. Some of the battles fought since World War I have been fought on the same battlefields of Europe.

Thousands of America’s fighting men and women have been called to make the sacrifice for freedom and the poppy has become the symbol of our dead of all past wars. It is recognized as the symbol for which these fighting men and women gave their lives and many of their comrades who suffered injuries.

This is why we ask you to please place this little red poppy over your heart in tribute to the sacrifices which they made.

These poppies are made by hospitalized and disabled veterans. The material is furnished by the American Legion Auxiliary.

Are the veterans who make the poppies paid? Oh, yes, they are paid very, very little — a few cents for each poppy made. Some veterans do well to make 50 cents a day.

In addition to the pay, making the poppies certainly helps to lighten the burden for those who are still undergoing suffering and hardships because of the wars and it is also a form of therapy.

We cannot stress enough that these poppies are never sold. They are given in exchange of a donation of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters or dollars. We assure you, any amount is certainly appreciated.

Another good question — What is the money collected used for? Prior to this year, the money was used only for veterans and their families. Now due to the great needs of today’s military families, The American Legion National Executive Committee voted to expand the use of newly collected funds to active duty service members and their families who demonstrate a financial or medical need.

So, when you are asked to wear a little red poppy on Poppy Days, April 25-26, smile, accept a poppy, pause for a few moments, remembering the many men and women who took the oath to serve our country and gave their lives so that America would survive today. Yes, wearing a poppy is certainly a tribute to America.