(NewsUSA) - Memorial Day is approaching, and with it comes a simple opportunity for everyone to honor past military personnel -- wear or display a poppy. The simple red poppy flower has symbolized the ultimate military sacrifice since World War I, and National Poppy Day is gaining more attention in the United States every year.
National Poppy Day falls on the Friday before Memorial Day, which this year is May 27.
The choice of a poppy was inspired by the poem, "In Flanders Fields," written by Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D., while serving on the front lines in World War I in Europe. Since then, the poppy has become a symbol to raise awareness and recognize the sacrifices of military personnel and their families.
The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA), a community of volunteers serving veterans, military, and their families, adopted the poppy as its memorial flower in 1921, and, in 1924, in conjunction with The American Legion, instituted the national Poppy Program. Each year, American Legion Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of poppies, especially on veteran-related holidays.
"National Poppy Day is a time for Americans to come together and show their support for our servicemembers and veterans by wearing a red poppy -- an unforgettable and historic symbol of remembrance, sacrifice, and hope," says Kathy Daudistel, ALA national president.
"The American Legion Auxiliary is proud to make and distribute poppies each year for this solemn tradition. I invite communities across the country to join the American Legion Auxiliary to honor the fallen and support the living by wearing a red poppy on Friday, May 27."
Everyone can participate in National Poppy Day to honor the fallen and support the living. Wear a poppy or a poppy-themed item, such as a pin, T-shirt, bracelet, or even a poppy sticker, and tell people what it means. Share poppies with friends, family, and colleagues. Accept a poppy if you see American Legion Auxiliary members distributing the special flower. Poppies are never "sold," but donations are encouraged.
All donations received are used by the American Legion Auxiliary to support veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their families with medical and financial needs.
Visit poppydayusa.org for more information about National Poppy Day. Visit ALAforVeterans.org for more information about the American Legion Auxiliary.