Letter to the Editor: The remembrance poppy has become the defining symbol of reverence for the millions of soldiers who lost their lives in conflict.

In the present day the ‘poppy appeal’, organised by The Royal British Legion, takes place in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday, which occurs on the Sunday nearest to Armistice Day.

The poppy appeal raises money for those who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces and have subsequently been affected physically, mentally or economically by war.

The history of the poppy as a symbol of respect for the war dead is now over one hundred years old. Since the appeal’s inception in 1921, the poppy has become an international symbol of remembrance for those who have given their lives defending their respective countries.

Perhaps the most famous war poem of all time, In Flanders Fields was written on May 3, 1915 by Canadian born Lieutenant Colonel John McRae following the death of his friend and brother in arms Alexis Helmer.

While poppies remain more popular in the United Kingdom and other commonwealth countries, it was an American, Moina Michael, who can be credited with the first charitable poppy sale. 

Michael had been working at the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries Office in New York and was so stirred by McRae’s poem that she vowed to pin a poppy to her lapel and swore always to wear one to honour and revere the war dead.

Using money she had earned for her work for the YMCA, she purchased twenty-five silk poppies and distributed these to her colleagues.

Her efforts did not stop there.

Michael continued her effort to have the poppy adopted as a symbol of national remembrance and it was just two years before her dreams were realised and the National American Legion adopted the poppy as the official symbol of remembrance.

Thus it appears that the early history of the poppy is deeply rooted in American tradition and is not of European origin.

Now in modern times we have adopted many different ways to symbolise and wear our poppy with pride, from the traditional lapel poppy to those displayed on car’s to wrist bands and enamel badges produced each year.

The 2023 Poppy Appeal will soon be upon us and The Longhope and District Royal British Legion have been preparing since the end of the 2022 appeal. 

longhope wreath
The laying of the wreath at Huntley Memorial in 2022 (Longhope RBL)

Fiona Greaves, Poppy Appeal Coordinator, has been busy organising the boxes, charity tins, memorial wreaths and much more but most importantly the time given by volunteers not only in the branch but the community too who will be doing their door to door collection and tables at sites around the locality where people can show their support by donating whatever they feel able to, even if people don’t have spare cash they can donate by contactless or even QR code scanning.

One other way to donate is to become a member and receive the monthly magazine which provides so much information about the work of the Royal British Legion home and abroad, there is no obligation to do any more than to be a member. Email : [email protected]. Quoting the branch code below:

Or call 0800 3077 773 quoting Longhope and District RBL BR3055.

The 2023 Remembrance Service is Sunday 12th November starting at Longhope Church.

Why not come along to our monthly meeting to find out more about how we support the community. The second Tuesday, at The Latchen Rooms , Longhope Village, 19.00 for 19.30 start , you will receive a warm welcome. We have a bar with beer and wine plus teas, coffee, biscuits and cake.

Wear your Poppy with pride. We will remember them.

Longhope and District RBL