May 22, 2014

Poppies honor American heroes

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

— “In Flanders Fields”

Lt. Col. John McCrae

Saturday, at locations across Whitfield County, members of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 112 and the American Legion Unit 112 will distribute poppies in exchange for donations to assist veterans in our community.

We hope that you will take the time to make a donation and wear that poppy on Monday when the nation observes Memorial Day.

Memorial Day marks the time this nation remembers and honors the men and women who have died serving in the United States military. Though federal law did not officially recognize Memorial Day as a holiday until 1967, observance of this day began soon after the end of the Civil War, to honor those who died in that conflict. It was then known as Decoration Day. But over the years, it grew to encompass all those who have died in all of America’s wars and the name Memorial Day gradually came into use.

The use of red poppies to honor those who have died is inspired by the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields,” which was written by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian Army officer, to honor his comrades who had died in battle.

As a physician, McCrae could have served in the army medical corps, but instead volunteered for a fighting unit and saw combat at the second Battle of Ypres in Flanders, Belgium. McCrae described the battle as a “nightmare.” But while burying one of his best friends, McCrae noticed how quickly the poppies had begun to grow around the graves.

Wearing a poppy on Memorial Day helps honor those who have died protecting our freedom, and it shows their families that we appreciate the sacrifice they and their loved ones have made.

Making a donation to the American Legion helps give back to those veterans who are still living with us.

Poppies will be distributed Saturday at Kroger on Cleveland Highway, The Green Spot, Food Lion in Varnell and Tractor Supply on Cleveland Highway. They will also be distributed Monday at the Memorial Day Community Celebration at the Dalton Green.

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