Penned in November of 1918 with inspiration from the poem "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae, Moina Michael was so touched by the words of McCrae that she decided to write her own poem, "We Shall Keep the Faith." She also vowed to always to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance, which would eventually become an emblem for "keeping the faith with all who died."
Ms. Michael then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922, the VFW became the first veterans' organization nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans.
The red poppy is a nationally recognized symbol of sacrifice worn by Americans since World War I to honor those who served and died for our country in all wars. It is significant for several reasons, including poppies were among the first flowers to bloom on the battlefields of Northern France and Belgium during World War I. In soldiers' folklore, the vivid red of the poppy is said to have come from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground, and red poppies are a traditional symbol of remembrance.