Veterans lead way on events
by W. Winston Skinner
Local veterans will be offering Buddy Poppies in several locations this weekend – as Memorial Day approaches.
Memorial Day will be Monday, and there will be a program at Veterans Memorial Plaza in the Newnan city park at Jackson Street and Temple Avenue on Monday at 11 a.m.
Senoia will hold its annual Memorial Day festival Monday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. with entertainment, a food court, antiques, arts and crafts vendors and a children’s area. Senoia will have a patriotic program at noon and a parade at 2 p.m.
Brigadier Gen. Don Harvel will speak for a Memorial Day program on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Moreland Mill. That event is sponsored by the Moreland Community Historical Society.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2667 will be offering Buddy Poppies for donations this weekend. The poppy has been associated with veterans and those who gave their lives in military service since World War I.
Hank Berkowitz, veterans service officer for the post, said the poppy “became associated with war after the publication of a poem written by Col. John McCrae in 1915.”
McCrae was a Canadian doctor serving with a forward medical team in Holland during World War I, “performing endless operations,” Berkowitz said.
More than 204,000 U.S. military personnel were wounded in World War I. “More than 115,000 Americans suffered the ultimate sacrifice and now lie in repose under marble crosses both in America and in Europe.”
McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields,” describes glowing red fields among the battleground of the fallen.
The poem reads:
“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…”
McCrae’s poem came to the attention of Moina Michael, Georgia educator and civic leader. She wrote a reply:
“And now the Torch and Poppy red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.”
Michael also began to explore the idea of selling silk poppies to raise funds for disabled and needy veterans. The idea spread, and Michael was honored with a U.S. postage stamp because of her efforts in 1948.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars, comprised of veterans who have served on foreign hostile shores, on water or in the air above, assemble and sell poppies as a fundraiser to assist veterans, their widows and surviving children. This Memorial Day will mark the 91st Anniversary of that first nationwide campaign of 1922 following the poppy being adopted as the official memorial flower of the VFW.
Post 2667 will be conducting its annual campaign during this Memorial Day Season as follows:
• Today-Monday. Volunteers will be stationed in front of Wal-Mart and at Kroger at Thomas Crossroads.
• Saturday-Monday. Volunteers will be stationed in front of Big Lots.
• Monday. Volunteers will be stationed at Tractor Supply at Thomas Crossroads.
Berkowitz said the post seeks to provide financial assistance when unanticipated events intervene in the lives of suffering veterans.
In addition to public donations, this year the VFW is reaching out to Coweta businesses and corporations to assist in meeting local veterans’ needs. “It is never too late to assist veterans whose needs have increased, given these dire economic times,” Berkowitz said.
Donations may be sent to: Newnan VFW, P.O. Box 544, Newnan, GA 30264.
Local volunteers are also invited to help place American flags on the graves of veterans on Saturday. Volunteers will be meeting at the Coweta Veterans Club on U.S. Highway 29 north on Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
“Wear comfortable shoes and bring a screwdriver or tool to punch a hole in the hard ground,” recommended Jeff Carroll, commander of VFW Post 2667.