The Origin of the Remembrance Poppy.
The poppy is a nationally known symbol in the UK, used to represent and remember soldiers who fought in First and Second World Wars. Members of the public, Celebrities and MPs all proudly display the flowers around October and November as a sign of respect to those who fought and those who fell.
But where did the symbol for the poppy come from? A common idea is that the red petals represent the blood spilled, while the green leaf represents the end of the war, as it should point as though indicating an 11 on a clock. While a thoughtful notion, the actual reason is quite a bit simpler.
Poppies were the first flowers to grow on the grounds that were devastated by the carnage, but most importantly, they were the first flowers to grown in the churned up earth around fallen soldiers' graves. Unlike many flowers, the resilient poppy seed can last for a long time in harsh conditions, laying dormant without sprouting. The seed can then thrive once the earth has been churned and aerated.
In France, a blue cornflower is worn as a remembrance symbol for the same reason.
The use of a poppy as a symbol was first mentioned in a poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who witnessed his friend die in battle. It was written from the view-point of dead soldiers, calling upon the living to continue with the conflict.
The poem inspired a second writer, Moina Michael, who decided to write a poem of her own. In which she vowed to wear a poppy as a tribute to those who contributed to the war. She was first seen wearing a silk poppy at a war secretaries conference in 1918, and handed 25 others to those attending. In 1920 the idea was picked up by the National American Legion, who created the mass-produced poppies that are commonly seen today.