This Saturday, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4101 will be giving away poppies.

They're bright red, artificial flowers with a "Buddy Poppy" tag on them, but they benefit servicemen and servicewomen in need.

"VFW Posts do them two or three times a year," said Phil Rippee, District 14 commander. "We give out the poppies for free, but people can give a donation if they wish. All donations go to help veterans."

According to Department of Missouri Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Buddy Poppy symbolizes the blood shed by American military service members and serves as a reminder of their sacrifices. Poppies were originally distributed by the Franco-American Children's League to benefit children in the devastated areas of France and Belgium following World War I. In 1922, VFW conducted a campaign and obtained poppies from France, but members soon discovered it took too long to get the flowers in from France. They decided the poppies would be assembled by disabled and needy veterans who could make the paper flowers and ship them out to the members for distribution.

"The poppies are the VFW’s official memorial flower," said Rippee. "Each post is required to give away a certain quota of poppies, based on the number of members in the post." 

The poppies are assembled by disabled and needy veterans in the VA hospitals. According to the VFW, the VFW Buddy Poppy program provides compensation to the veterans who assemble the poppies, and it also provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans' rehabilitation and service programs. It also partially supports the VFW National Home For Children, which serves as a living memorial to America’s veterans by helping military and veteran families during difficult times.

"The poppies hold a lot of history," said Rippee. "We've been doing the poppies program since our post first started. That’s over 50 years."

People can wear the poppies on their clothes or display them other places in memory and support of veterans. Two members of the VFW Post will be outside from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Price Cutter in Seymour, the Harter House in Strafford and the Price Cutter in Marshfield.

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