Among all the flowers that evoke the memories and emotions of war is the red poppy, which became associated with war after the publication of a poem written by the Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. John McCrae. The poem, "In Flanders Fields" (below), describes fields of red poppies blowing among the battleground of the fallen.

For more than 75 years, the VFW's "Buddy"® Poppy program has raised millions of dollars in support of veterans' welfare and the well-being of their dependents.

The VFW conducted its first poppy distribution before Memorial Day in 1922, becoming the first veterans' organization to organize a nationwide distribution. The poppy was soon adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

In 1923, VFW decided that Buddy Poppies would be assembled by disabled and needy veterans who would be paid for their work to provide them with some form of financial assistance. The next year, disabled veterans at the Buddy Poppy factory in Pittsburgh began making poppies. 

In February 1924, the VFW registered the "Buddy" Poppy name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A certificate was issued on May 20, 1924, granting the VFW all trademark rights in the name of "Buddy" under the classification of artificial flowers. The VFW has made that trademark a guarantee that all poppies bearing that name and the VFW label are genuine products of the work of disabled and needy veterans. No other organization, firm or individual can legally use the name "Buddy" Poppy.

Today, VFW Buddy Poppies are still assembled by disabled and needy veterans in VA Hospitals.

The minimal assessment cost of the poppies paid by VFW Posts provides compensation to the veterans who assemble the poppies, provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans' rehabilitation and service programs, and partially supports the VFW National Home For Children. All donated funds remain with their respective Post.

Hear from those who assemble the mighty little flowers in "The Veterans Behind the Buddy Poppy" video





 In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.