‘Buddy Poppy' honors dead, raises funds for the living

May 26, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

The "Buddy Poppy" is a memorial symbol for veterans across the world, and on Memorial Day today in this nation, veterans, their families and supporters across the country will be wearing the "Buddy Poppy."

Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3255 4

of El Centro have been handing out the poppies over the last few days inside Vons in El Centro, accepting any donations people will give.

"It can't be any less than a penny because I don't have change," joked Frank Garcia, 80, of Brawley.

Garcia is a World War II U.S. Army veteran.

The "Buddy Poppy" was inspired by Col. John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields," a poem about those who fought and died in France during World War I, according to information on the Internet.

Since 1922 the artificial poppy has been dispersed by the VFW as a means of raising funds for needy and disabled veterans, dependents of veterans and widows and orphans of veterans.


A Canadian veteran, McCrae in his poem presented an image of bright red flowers blooming among rows of white crosses. The bright red flowers, which were poppies, started being worn as a memorial symbol for those that died.

"It's a great organization," said Garcia of the VFW. "We do it every year and it really helps a lot of veterans. It's a really big help."

Herald Peugh, 57, of Imperial, a U.S. Army veteran from the Vietnam War, said, "Memorial Day is a day that we observe our soldiers who died in combat. This day should be sacred for all people in the Imperial Valley."

"Even though they don't go and honor the veterans, they should go out and pay respect to their own relatives that passed on," he said.

Peugh is a member of VFW 3255 and American Legion Post 25. He encouraged youths in the Imperial Valley to get involved in programs that help veterans. He added veterans who don't belong to a VFW post should sign up and get involved.

"We're here to help you in times of need. So come out and join us. Help us and we'll help you," he said.

Nicanor Omar Benavidez, 71, of El Centro, a U.S. Navy veteran from the Korean War, said one of the VFW's major duties "is to let the public know that the freedom we enjoy now was a sacrifice of many of us."

For information about veteran services contact the county Veterans Services office at 355-8620.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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