Poppies and Remembrance Day – Why do we wear a poppy on Poppy Day during November
Why the poppy became the symbol of remembrance
Flanders is the name of the whole western part of Belgium. It saw some of the most concentrated and bloodiest fighting of the First World War. There was complete devastation. Buildings, roads, trees and natural life simply disappeared. Where once there were homes and farms there was now a sea of mud - a grave for the dead where men still lived and fought.
Only one other living thing survived: the poppy flowering each year with the coming of the warm weather brought life, hope, colour and reassurance to those still fighting.
Poppies only flower in rooted up soil. Their seeds can lie in the ground for years without germinating, and only grow after the ground has been disturbed.
John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Canadian Armed Forces, was so deeply moved by what he saw in northern France that, in 1915, he scribbled down the poem "In Flanders Fields" in his pocket notebook.
McCrae's poem was eventually published in 'Punch' magazine under the title 'In Flanders Fields'. The poppy became a popular symbol for soldiers who died in battle.
Why do we wear a poppy?
In 1918, Moira Michael, an American, wrote the poem 'We shall keep the faith', in which she promised to wear a poppy ‘in honour of our dead’. This began the tradition of wearing a poppy in remembrance.
When was the first Poppy Day?
The first actual Poppy Day was held in Britain on 11th November 1921 and was a national success, raising £106,000. Since then, during every November, we keep the memory alive by wearing a poppy to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives during war.
Which side should you wear you poppy?
Some people prefer to wear a poppy on the left over their hearts. However, the general rules is to wear Left for men because that's where medals go, and Right for women because that's where a widow would wear her husband's medals.
Where does the money raised from selling poppies go?
Money raised from the selling of poppies in Scotland goes to the Earl Haig Fund and money raised in the rest of the UK and overseas goes to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal Benevolent Fund. The money raised for both is ring-fenced for providing welfare to those in need - veterans and their dependants.
Article courtesy of Woodlands Junior School, Tonbridge, Kent
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