(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
Throughout April, members of The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 114 will engage in several community service projects and their most popular, Poppy Day, will take place April 12.
"Poppy Day means a remembrance of all the people who died for us to make the land such a wonderful country that it is now," said Geniece Kinder, president of The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 114.
Kinder's late husband was a Vietnam veteran and she's been a member of Unit 114 for 18 years. She said she can't help of think of her husband and all of their friends who were in the service when she sees a poppy.
During World War I from 1914 to 1918, the battlefields of Europe were trampled by the boots of millions of fighting men and many lives were lost. As American troops advanced through France and Europe, the only touch of life and beauty they saw were the wild poppies that bloomed during the war.
Soon after the war, the poppy tradition began. Patriotic organizations in different countries began conducting poppy sales. The flowers, made by disabled veterans, raised fund for relief work among handicapped veterans and their families. Wearing a poppy came to mean honor the dead and help the living.
Last year throughout April, the auxiliary received $2,700 in donations from the area, Kinder said. The auxiliary is hoping to exceed last year's contributions, she added.
Blair Moran, chaplain of American Legion Post 114, said he commends the women of the auxiliary for their extensive, hard work each year in promoting Poppy Day.
"Any American should want to donate money in order to wear a poppy," noted Moran. "And with what's going on in Iraq right, we'll have a new crop of veterans to support in years to come."
The money raised goes to rehabilitation of veterans and other various items, such as Christmas gifts or holiday cards for veterans and their spouses, Kinder explained.
"Poppy is a symbol, which is recognized as a representation of veterans who gave their time or their lives in the service of their country," said auxiliary member Phyllis Spitler, who also served in the Women's Army Corps.
Poppy Day stands to represent people who the military sacrificed a lot in order for them to live freely, Spitler said. In return, all veterans ask is for support and prayers, she added.
"Poppies brighten the community and the lives of veterans," Kinder said. "They bring smiles to those who wear them and joy to us -- the ones who offer them."
Anyone wanting to make a contribution and receive a poppy can find the auxiliary members from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 12 at these Sikeston/Miner locations: Food Giant, Miner Piggly Wiggly, Riggs Wholesale Co., Sav-A-Lot and Sikeston Market Place.