For 83 years, members of the Military Order of the Cootie, a subsidiary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, have traveled from across the globe to Washington D.C. to honor generations of veterans. Chuck Werner, Buddy Poppies Committee Co-Chairman of Post 6483, made the annual trek with several VFW members as they joined hundreds to place over 400 wreaths at the Argonne Cross Memorial.
Fellow Cooties travel from all reaches of the world including Europe and the Pacific Rim to share fellowship and honor those that served in the United States Military. “We remember the fallen so that we never forget them,” said Werner. “[Laying the wreaths] is our way of showing respect to those that have come before us. It is our turn to pay them back for what they have done.”
At home, local VFW Post 6483 will be accepting donations at Walmart in Milford on Saturday November 11from 8am to 4pm, as they hand out Buddy poppy flowers. Funds collected will be placed into a relief fund to assist local veterans, current military and their families. Connecting the visual image of the poppy with the sacrifice of service made by our veterans has been an important goal of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Buddy Poppy Program since its inception in 1921.
According to the American Legion Auxiliary,“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.” Lt. Col. McCrae’s wrote the poem In Flanders Fields, that memorialized the connection between the flower and the sacrifices of soldiers of foreign wars.
VFW Post 6483 members ask that the public visually display the Buddy poppy flower on car rearview mirrors, pocketbooks and book bags. “We want the sight of the Buddy poppy to remind people of veterans and those currently deployed.” said Werner. “All donations will stay local to help veteran families.”
Werner hopes that current generations will see the respect given to veterans and do the same in the future. For Werner and his fellow VFW members, this philosophy drives their organization as they are committed to assisting local veterans every day. To this end, VFW Post 6483 has joined the adopt a unit program, serving the 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron stationed in Dover, DE. The squadron directly contributes to the 436th and 512th Airlift Wings’ operational capabilities and worldwide mobility execution in the Middle East.
“This partnership has helped us to understand the needs of the modern soldier,” said Werner. “We care for them overseas, when they come home and are with their families while they are away.”
In Flanders Fields
“In Flanders Fields” is a war poem in the form of a rondeau, written during the First World War by Canadian physician and Lt. Col. John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died during the Second Battle of Ypres.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
–Lt. Col. John McCrae
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