PO Box 81791

Las Vegas, Nevada 89180 




The Poppy Story


From the battlefields of World War I, weary soldiers brought home the memory of a barren landscape transformed by wild poppies, red as the blood that had soaked the soil. By that miracle of nature, the spirit of their lost comrades lived on.


The poppy became a symbol of the sacrifice of lives in war and represented the hope that none had died in vain. The American Legion Auxiliary Poppy has continued to bloom for the casualties of four wars, its petals of paper bound together for veterans by veterans, reminding America each year that the men and women who have served and died for their country deserve to be remembered.


Poppy Day has become a familiar tradition in almost every American community. This distribution of the bright red memorial flower to the public is one of the oldest and most widely recognized programs of the American Legion Auxiliary.


This poppy, as a memorial flower to the war dead, can be traced to a single individual, Miss Moina Michael. She was so moved by Lt. Col. McCrae's poem, "In Flanders Fields," that she wrote a response:


. . . the blood of heroes never dies


But lends a luster to the red


Of the flower that blooms above the dead


In Flanders' Fields.


On impulse, she bought a bouquet of poppies - all that New York City's Wanamaker's Department Store had - and handed them to businessmen meeting at the New York YMCA where she worked. She asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen. That was November 1918. World War I was over, but America's sons would rest forever "in Flanders' Fields." Later she would spearhead a campaign that would result in the adoption of the poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice.

Freedom is not free. The American Legion Auxiliary knows that. We are the world's largest women's patriotic service organization and we exist to help veterans. We honor their service and their sacrifice to our nation.


The Auxiliary's focus has remained steady for over 90 years: Meet the needs of our military veterans and constantly remind the American public about those needs. We do this on a community-based level by providing volunteer services and support whenever and wherever we perceive a need - from raising funds, to honoring the fallen, to educating the public, to assisting veterans and their families on a personal level, we are here to serve. The collective efforts of the Auxiliary's members produce millions of volunteer service hours every year.


After the American Legion was formed several women's organizations wanted to become officially affiliated with the American Legion.  A new organization was established in 1919 from women most closely associated with the men of The Legion.  Within a year 1,342 community-based units of the Auxiliary had been organized in more than 45 states.  A lot has been accomplished since then.  


        1923   The now widely recognized crepe paper poppy was officially

                    adopted as the Legion and Auxiliary's memorial flower.  Only

                    those poppies made by veterans are to be distributed by the

                    Auxiliary in fund raising campaigns. 


        1928   Christmas Gift Shops were set up in VA hospitals


        1930   The Auxiliary began community construction programs to help

                    employ the jobless. 


        1934   The Auxiliary established Junior Membership


        1937   The American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program was 

                   created.  Today, it continues to educate our young women

                   about our government and prepare them to take leadership

                   roles in the future


        1941   Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the  Auxiliary donated

                   6 mobile blood units to the Red Cross and created the

                   Emergency Volunteer Committee to support the war effort. 

                   Within the following year, the Auxiliary established

                   scholarships and sponsored 1,000 student nurses in

                   response to the National Defense Committee's focus to

                   recruit nurses for the Army and Navy 1944 Auxiliary

                   rehabilitation program for disabled veterans was created


        1974   Community Serive Committee backed the establishment of

                   youth recreation centers to combat juvenile delinquency


        1951   The combined efforts of the Legion family were responsible

                   for donating $7 million in assistance to the children of



        1952   The Auxiliary aired television spots about its poppies.  More

                   than 26 million poppies were made and contributions of nearly

                   $2 million poured out to disabled veterans and their children


        1958   11,015 hospital volunteers served in 174 VA hospitals and 292

                   non-VA hospitals


        1963   The Auxiliary helped build 13 rural schools and sent toolkits

                   to the Dominican Republic


        1964   The Auxiliary contributed disaster relief to Alaska after the

                    State's worst earthquake in recorded history


        1965   Auxiliary set up 12 vocational training centers in Costa Rica


        1966   The Auxiliary's Foreign Relations program financed a water

                   system and community development project in the Philippines


        1968   Foreign Relations program equipped a hospital maternity/

                   pediatrics ward in Malaysia.


        1969   Auxiliary volunteers donated 15,070 gallons of blood and

                   2,600 pairs of eyeglasses to Lions International. 


        1970   The Auxiliary Emergency Fund was established for members

                   in crisis.  The Auxiliary life insurance plan was created


        1971   Auxiliary Juniors (over 100,000 of them) sponsored a teacher

                   at Freedoms Foundation & held rummage sales where needy

                   families could shop for free


        1972   $250,000 in scholarships was awarded by the Auxiliary's     

                   Education program.  Children & Youth program received

                   $942,000 to benefit 4 million children


        1974   The Poppy program reported 14.5 million poppies made,

                   earning $1.8 million from distributiona dn $314,000 for 2,232

                   hospitalized veteran poppy makers


        1976   The Auxiliary supported the Legion-sponsored Fredom Bell   



        1978   2,850,000 service hours are logged by 62,991 volunteers in

                   VA hospitals and nursing facilities to help 633,000 veterans


        1980   The Awareness Assembly is established to inform Auxiliary

                   members about national and international issued pertaining

                   to defense, security, women and the aged.  The Past Presidents

                   Parley awards $69,000 in nursing scholarships


        1987   The National President's project was a comic book educating

                   children about safety tips.  The project set Auxiliary records

                   for public response


        1988   Legion & Auxiliary members held an open forum on the

                   MIA/POW issue. 


        1990   The Family Support Network assisted families of Persian Gulf

                   War troops.  Eligibility was expanded to include veterans of

                   Grenada, Lebanon & Panama


        1992   The Auxiliary introduced the Young People and Relationships

                   video and built the All Woman House at Habitat

                   International's Jimmy Carter Work Project in Washington


        1993   The Auxiliary collected and donated over 1 millions pounds

                   of food to assist homeless veterans across the nation


        1994   The Auxiliary members initiated 17 Teen Courts around the

                   country, offering an alternative to the formal justice system

                   allowing young offenders to be tried and sentenced by a jury

                   of their peers


        1997   The Auxiliary became involved with the President's Summit

                   for America's Future and the Children's Miracle Network


        1999   National President Virginia Hobbs called for members to

                   become more aware of the desparate need for organ and

                   tissue donations


        2000   Auxiliary members raised more than $660,000 for the World

                   War II Memorial, nearly tripling its two-year goal.  National

                   President Elizabeth Stewart used her national platform to

                   promote breast cancer awareness


        2001   The Auxiliary became a host sponsor of the National Veterans

                   Creative Arts Festival. 


        2002   Members donated nearly $100,000 to various relief efforts in

                   response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  The Auxiliary held its

                   first Unit Development & Revitalization seminar to educate

                   representatives from each Department about how to help

                   struggling Units, create new Units, and retain members 


        2003   The Auxiliary donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in

                   personal items shipped to our deployed troups in Operation

                   Iraqui Freedom. Donations also assisted the families the the

                   deployed through the American Legion Family Support



        2006   National President Jan Pulvermacher-Ryan began an

                   endowment fund for the National President's Scholarship,

                   for Children of Warriors


        2009   The Auxiliary 's Call to ServiceCorps VISTA (Volunteets in

                   Service to America) Project is launched.  Seventeen federal

                   AmeriCorps VISTA members are assigned to ALA National

                   Headquarters and nine states with the main objective of

                   building volunteer capacity to alleviate poverty  among 

                   veterans, military servicemembes and their families.  The

   national magazine is redesigned and renamed, Auxiliary



2012     ALA's published Plan of Action for the 2012/2013 fiscal year has

             detailed, step-by-step instructions, goals and strategies

             to accomplish its Mission for Americanism, Poppies, Veterans

             Affairs and Rehabilitation, National Security, Education and all

             the other wonderful ALA programs that make such a difference in

             the lives of our nation's veterans, active duty service members,

             and their families.  


                        I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO SEE WHAT WE DO NEXT!!