One hundred years after the United States entered World War I, the red poppy still symbolizes the sacrifices made by soldiers in the fight against Germany.
Millions of people in countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Belgium, celebrate Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day, every Nov. 11, by wearing red poppy flowers to commemorate civilians and military personnel who lost their lives in wars.
Americans celebrate Veterans Day, also on Nov. 11, to show appreciation for all living military officials who service their country. In the U.S., people wear the red poppy on Memorial Day, the last Monday of May (May 29, 2017) to honor those who died trying to protect the country, according to The Department of Veterans Affairs.
The red color is not a reflection of the color of blood, nor is it a symbol of death or a sign of support for war, according to the Royal British Legion, a U.K. charity for military officers and their families.
So, how did the poppy come to symbolize the sacrifices of World War I soldiers? The story goes like this:
During World War I, much of the fighting took place in Western Europe. The Belgium Flanders, the Northernmost point of the Western Front during the First World War, became one of the most devastated regions in the battlefield. The war turned the beautiful countryside into a field of mud where nothing could grow. But poppy flowers sprouted on the land of thousands of dead men.
In early May…
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