By Leila Dycus staff writer

An iconic American program that was started during World War I is coming to Madison this Memorial Day weekend as the Veterans of Foreign Wars celebrate this reflective holiday. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) will celebrate Memorial Day this weekend by accepting donations outside of Walmart for “Buddy” Poppies. The VFW is a national program that began in 1922. “Buddy” Poppies are small red flowers made by disabled and needy veterans. VFW pays these vets for their work providing them with a form of financial support. The flowers were first distributed on Memorial Day 1922 just as they will carry on the tradition this weekend.

“One hundred percent of donations raised goes to four major groups- USO, Wounded Warriors, Morgan County Junior ROTC and the VFW children’s home,” said Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars and Morgan County Resident Scott Sellers. The Morgan County Junior ROTC will aid the VFW’s as they collect donations on Saturday. The groups will also participate in the Memorial Day celebration in the park on Monday. Sellers said that the poem In Flanders Field, serves as an emblem of the “Buddy” Poppy program. The poem was written during World War I, while looking out over a field of poppies. The poppies were actually blood spread over the field. The VFW “Buddy” Poppy program has ties to the Morgan County area. Moina Michael is associated with the idea of using poppies as a symbol of remembrance of those who served in World War I. Michael, was born just down the road in Good Hope. Deemed the “Poppy Lady” there is a monument commemorating Michael’s accomplishments in her hometown of Good Hope.

Today, “Buddy” Poppies are iconic red flowers found across the country. Disabled and needy veterans still assemble the poppies in VA hospitals. “Memorial days is in memory of those that lost their lives serving this country,” said Sellers. For more information about VFW’s “Buddy” Poppy program stop by the Madison Walmart from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, come by the Memorial Day celebration in the park or visit http://www.vfw.org/Community/Buddy-Poppy/.