History of the Buddy Poppy

The red “Buddy Poppy” distributed by the VFW originated from a poem written during World War I by a Canadian military physician after presiding over the funeral of a fallen soldier in France.  Its references to the  red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized symbols for soldiers who have died in conflicts.

IN FLANDER'S FIELD

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.


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

It was during the 1923 encampment that the VFW decided that VFW Buddy Poppies be assembled by disabled and needy veterans who would be paid for their work to provide them with some form of financial assistance. The plan was formally adopted during the VFW's 1923 encampment. The next year, disabled veterans at the Buddy Poppy factory in Pittsburgh assembled VFW Buddy Poppies. The designation "Buddy Poppy" was adopted at that time.

In February 1924, the VFW registered the name "Buddy Poppy" with the U.S. Patent 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 Buddy Poppies) to VFW units 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 orphans and widows of our nation's veterans.