I’m all for a good craft. My bathroom shelves and corners of every room in my house are filled with scraps of paper, string, and other tidbits waiting to be transformed into a fun afterschool activity. The one thing you won’t find on my website is a craft for a paper poppy for Remembrance Day, Veteran's Day or Memorial Day.
The paper poppy as a symbol for Memorial Day and Veteran's Day is sacred. In my opinion it shouldn’t be lumped into the same type of holiday craft madness as Valentine’s Day or Christmas (Oh, I have crafts here. I like cutting and folding paper with the best of you. I like recycling, reusing, and repurposing.)
There are so many blogs and websites posting crafts on how to honor veterans by making a paper poppy. I don’t mean to disparage those websites. I feel that the crafter's heart is in the right place. I just feel that the focus is off.
By making your own paper poppy, you aren’t able to connect a child or family member to the true meaning of the Veteran’s Day poppy. The crepe paper poppy symbol started with a means to provide income and therapy to disabled veterans. Many countries have their own version of the Veteran's/Memorial poppy. England has the Remembrance Day poppy while New Zealand and Australia wear poppies for Anzac Day. The cause is always the same, in memory of those veterans of war and to raise funds for the charitable causes in support of veterans and their families.
In 1924 The United States Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) was the first US organization to connect the poppy in memoriam of fallen veterans. Since 1924, VFW has organized a national campaign to distribute paper poppies. These paper poppies, patented as the Buddy Poppy, continue to be assembled by disabled and needy veterans. All the funds raised for these poppies continue to provide services for disabled veterans as wells as their families.
At around the same time the American Legion adopted the poppy as its organization’s flower. Though a different organization, the American Legion also uses the funds it raises for each poppy pledge toward financial, health, and wellbeing of veterans and their families.
It is too easy to make something ourselves. Pinterest, YouTube, and numerous websites show us how easy it is to recreate these simple paper flowers. My issue is that these flowers are not simple. They represent sacrifice, honor, and dedication. They were chosen because of a poem, In Flanders Field, where poppies began to grow where fallen soldiers had sacrificed their lives.
Each Buddy Poppy and each American Legion poppy is still made by hand, by veterans. The making of these poppies is part of their recovery. Making these poppies is part of each veteran’s move toward independence, to becoming whole and financially sound. Making a donation for these poppies provides services for those men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
For Veteran’s Day, please find a veteran or a community initiative distributing poppies. If you want to make a bouquet of poppies, do it for Mother’s Day. I love poppies. I have nothing against the flower. I have them growing in my garden. They are such a beautiful, hardy flower. I just don't think they should be a Memorial Day craft.