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Pluck a poppy, donate to vets

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. ~ Canadian military doctor and artillery commander, John McCrae

John McCrae wrote “In Flanders Field,” on May 2, 1915, to honor a comrade killed in battle. The powerful images he describes have touched generations and poppies have become an enduring symbol of remembrance since World War I.

This week marks the beginning of the annual American Legion Auxiliary Poppy campaign. Throughout the year veterans have been making crepe paper poppies. Each May, bundles of the handmade flowers are sent to American Legion posts and auxiliaries all over the country. From there they may be taken to sites throughout communities where people can pluck a poppy and leave a donation.

The ALA estimates that over 7 million poppies are distributes each year, raising $2 million for veterans and their families. Monies raised locally, according to Jennifer Havlick, second vice-president of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 109 in Two Harbors, will be used to meet financial and medical needs of past and present service members in Lake County. Some of the funds may also go to provide recreational opportunities, too, such as bingo for vets’ home residents in Silver Bay. In any case, Havlick says it’s a way to show appreciation for the men and women who have served.

“We do this because our vets deserve out support for all they’ve sacrificed and continue to sacrifice,” she said.

This weekend, baskets of hand-made poppies will begin to pop up at businesses throughout the area and next Saturday, Poppy Day, ALA members will be stationed outside of Super One, the Two Harbors Municipal Liquor Store and other popular gathering places where donations will be received. Of course, poppies are available and donations accepted at American Legion Post 109 on First Avenue in Two Harbors.