MADISON — On Friday and Saturday, May 26 and 27, volunteers from American Legion Auxiliary Unit 43 in Madison and Florham Park will distribute poppies and accept donations to support veterans in need. The American Legion Auxiliary has been entrusted with the Poppy Program since 1924, and the funds raised through poppy donations directly benefit veterans and their families.
National Poppy Day, observed on May 26 this year, is a precursor to Memorial Day. The red poppy flowers, which symbolize resilience and the sacrifice made by servicemen and women, flourished amidst the war-torn soils of France and Belgium after World War I. The poppy represents the hope that the sacrifices made by those who have lost their lives in the war were not in vain.
During World War I, Lt. Col. John McCrae penned the iconic poem “In Flanders Fields,” which vividly depicted red poppy fields among the battlefields of fallen soldiers. For over a century, the American Legion family has carried on the tradition of distributing handmade memorial poppies in communities the week before Memorial Day.
Traditionally, poppies are not sold but offered in exchange for donations. The funds raised through local distribution efforts have enabled volunteers from Auxiliary Unit 43 to provide various activities and support to service members at Lyons Veterans Affairs Hospital, as well as the veterans’ nursing homes in New Jersey (Menlo Park, Paramus, and Vineland). Financial assistance has also been extended to Veterans Haven North and Veterans Haven South, which offer shelter to homeless veterans.