At Monday’s Memorial Day Ceremony in Hazlehurst, members of the Jeff Davis County Veterans Association Honor Guard took turns laying stems of bright red poppies at the base of the monument saluting each of the 32 Jeff Davis County men who had lost their lives fighting as members of the U.S. Military.
What was the significance of the poppies?
Jeff Davis County Veterans Association President Roy Anderson told the large crowd on hand for the ceremony:
During the First World War (1914–1918) much of the fighting took place in Western Europe. Previously beautiful countryside was blasted, bombed and fought over, again and again. The landscape swiftly turned to fields of mud: bleak and barren scenes where little or nothing could grow.
Bright red Flanders poppies, however, were delicate but resilient flowers and grew in their thousands, flourishing even in the middle of chaos and destruction. In early May, 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lt. Col. John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies to write a now famous poem called “In Flanders Fields.”
McCrae’s poem inspired an American academic, Moina Michael, to make and sell red silk poppies which were brought to England by a French woman, Anna Guérin. The (Royal) British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered nine million of these poppies and sold them on 11 November that year. The poppies sold out almost immediately and that first ever “Poppy Appeal” raised over 106,000 British pounds, a considerable amount of money at the time. This was used to help WW1 veterans with employment and housing to employ disabled ex-servicemen. Today, the factory and the Legion’s warehouse in Aylesford produces millions of poppies each year.