Extra special poppies

Landt-Thiel Legion’s flower distribution Nov. 9 to help mark 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

POPPIES HAVE A RICH HISTORY for members of the Landt-Thiel American Legion Post 470 and Auxiliary who will distribute them Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day. Pictured with poppies they will hand out are (from left) Sue and Augie Cervantes, Donald Schanen, Judy Braam, Andrea Jaeger, Donald Race and Urban Braam. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

Shoppers will be greeted by a familiar sight on Friday, Nov. 9, at Walmart and Piggly Wiggly in Saukville when local veterans will offer red paper flowers, replicas of poppies.

It’s a rite with which most people are probably familiar but whose significance may not be readily apparent, especially this year.

This Sunday, Nov. 11, is the 100th anniversary of the first Armistice Day, now known as Veterans Day. At precisely 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 —the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — in 1918, the armistice was signed, ending World War I.

Inspired by the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” poppies came to represent the graves of soldiers who were killed in the war and are buried overseas, Flanders being a region of Belgium where much of the fighting occurred.

The opening lines of the poem state:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row.

Poppies became the official flower of the American Legion in 1921.

They still represent soldiers buried overseas, said Mary Ellen Race, of the American Legion Landt-Thiel Post 470 Auxiliary in Saukville.

“By wearing a poppy, we honor every service member who has died in the name of freedom and democracy, and we show our support for future generations of veterans,” she said.

The main poppy distribution time each year is prior to Memorial Day at the end of May. Not all Legion posts distribute poppies for Veterans Day, like the Landt-Thiel post does, despite the poppy’s connection to Veterans Day.

Race said 17 Saukville Legion families will participate in working two-hour shifts this Friday distributing poppies.

    
Poppies are not sold, Race noted.

“The person acquiring the poppy is invited to make a donation at his or her discretion,” Race said.

The poppies themselves are made by veterans, many of them disabled, and all the money raised goes to support veterans programs, said Sue Hembrook, supervisor of the “Poppy Shop” located on the grounds of the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Milwaukee, where the poppies are made.

“Right now we have about 20 active poppy makers. We’re always looking for more,” Hembrook said.

The veterans are paid for making the poppies; many of them do so at home.

“They also get a feeling of giving back to their fellow veterans. A lot of our veterans have little if any family around. It gives them a purpose. It gives me a purpose,” she said.

“They just get a kick out of how well it’s received. It gives them a big boost emotionally.”

The Landt-Thiel Legion Post will mark Veterans Day on Sunday at the Legion Post in Saukville beginning at 10:30 a.m. Ceremonies are open to the public and include honoring and remembering deceased Legion members Charles Watry and Wilmer Helm, a presentation of The Quilts of Love to Watry’s wife, Kathy, and to Helm’s children.

Lunch will follow and be served by Legion Auxiliary members.

The evening program begins at 5:30 p.m. with refreshments, followed at 6:30 p.m. by an opening ceremony and dinner.

The after-dinner program will feature American Legion National Vice Commander James E. Wallace and Mark Straube, grand nephew of post namesake Herbert E. Thiel, the first Ozaukee County casualty of World War II. Straube will provide an update on research into Thiel’s military career.

Other highlights will include awards and recognitions, including naming Jeff Baumann as Legionnaire of the Year and Charles Watry to the Port Washington Wall of Honor.

A special exhibit also will be on display of the Allen Buchholz collection of Ozaukee County WWI veterans.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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