-GB “The Poppy Story” The First World War or “The Great War” started in 1914. The British Empire and their allies; France, Russia, Italy and America fought a war against Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. Millions of men joined the British Armed Forces and went to fight in the war. The conditions were terrible and millions were killed or injured. Those that did return home would never be the same again. One of the largest battles of the war took place around the town of Ypres, in the Flanders region of Belgium. While serving in Flanders, a young Canadian soldier called John McCrae noticed how bright red poppies grew wild amid the war-torn landscape. Despite the devastation that surrounded him he was inspired by the poppies that grew there to write the poem “In Flanders Fields”.
His poem became very popular and the bright red poppy would soon be adopted as a symbol to remember all those who had fought in the war. The First World War ended at o’clock in the morning on the 11th of November 1918. This was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The war had lasted over four years. The 11th of November every year is called “Remembrance Day” or “Armistice” Day.
After the war ended people started making paper poppies to sell. They sold poppies to raise money to help the millions of sailors, soldiers and airmen who were coming home from the war. These people are called ex-servicemen and women or ‘veterans’. On remembrance day people wear a poppy and at o’clock in the morning, the same time the war officially ended in 1918, there is a two minute silence. This is for people to remember all the ‘veterans’ who have served their country in a war not just the First World War. Remembrance Day happens every year around the world. The poppy isn’t the same everywhere, some countries use different designs for their poppy. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the poppy has two petals and a leaf but in Scotland the poppy has four petals and no leaf.
All the Poppies sold in Scotland are made in The Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh. The factory was founded in 1926 by Lady Haig, the wife of Field Marshal Douglas Haig who was the commander of the British Army in France during the First World War. When the factory first opened all the poppies were handmade by just two ex-servicemen with some red paper and a pair of scissors Today, there are over 40 ex-servicemen with disabilities who work in the factory. These men make five million poppies every year for the Scottish Poppy Appeal. They also make more than 10,000 wreaths and tens of thousands of wooden remembrance symbols. These include Christian crosses, Muslim crescent’s, Sikh khandas, the Jewish star of David and a symbol for Humanists. All the poppies are still made by hand, although a machine now cuts out the poppy shape. The ex-servicemen make two types of poppy; a poppy with a green plastic-stem and a stick on poppy. When all the poppies have been made, they’re packaged up with collecting tins for the money then sent to our volunteers all over Scotland.
Every village, town and city in Scotland has volunteers who donate their time for free to sell poppies in their local area. Poppies are sold in lots of places. You can find them in shops, supermarkets, offices, schools, factories, churches and hospitals. Volunteers collect the money made from selling poppies. They also hold fundraising events like jumble sales, cake sales and races to raise even more money. Thanks to their hard work, our volunteers raise millions of pounds from the people of Scotland every year. All the money that’s made helps ex-servicemen and women in need after serving in the Navy, Army or Air Force. We also help their families, their wives, husbands, partners and children. We help with house repairs, wheelchairs and specially adapted vehicles to help them live in their own homes for longer. We also give money so that they can retrain, start their own businesses or grow an existing business.
And we give advice, information and support to deal with any problems that may be encountered along the way. Helping them rebuild their lives. All this… from a tiny Poppy..
As found on Youtube