American Legion Auxiliary poppies - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

American Legion Auxiliary poppies


American Legion Auxiliary members continued a tradition that dates back 90 years and sold red poppies throughout Iowa this Memorial Day weekend.

These little paper poppies are made by veterans and distributed by American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) members in exchange for a donation. The money from these donations goes to veterans.

This happens nationwide, with more than 25 million poppies going out from the American Legion's more than 9,500 auxiliary units every year.

Pat Paar is an ALA member of and treasurer for Dubuque Auxiliary Unit 6.

"This paper on here that says, 'In memoriam 2011, the American Legion Auxiliary, handmade by veterans,'" Paar said, holding up a red paper poppy and reading the tag attached to it.

She said the Poppy Program is unlike other auxiliary fundraisers.

"The other monies that we take in, we can use for other uses, like Girls State or some other things like that, but poppies can only be used for veterans," Paar said.

Connie McCoy is also with the Dubuque unit and helped distribute poppies this year.

"Our men and women that have served in the armed forces and come back that need all the help they can get, that the poppy is a tool for us to help them," McCoy said.

The tradition stems from the first World War.

Canadian Lt. Colonel John McCrae wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields" in 1915, which forever sowed flowers into the War's history.

Flanders Fields refers to the battle grounds of the war that saw a widespread sprouting of red poppies following the combat and burials that churned the soil.

"It's just a memorial for those who have passed away," Paar said, leafing through the red paper poppies in her hand.

"It's sad to say that there are people that forget our veterans," McCoy said, pausing with emotion.

She said she helps distribute poppies to help people keep veterans in mind throughout the year.

In Iowa, one fourth of the money raised by the ALA through the Poppy Program goes to the American Legion of Iowa. The rest of the money goes to the local post to cover the cost of the poppies, pay the veterans who made them and support local veterans in need.

Veterans in Marshalltown made the poppies distributed in Dubuque.

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