The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was the first veteran organization to promote a nationally organized campaign for the annual distribution of poppies assembled by disabled and needy veterans.
The poppy movement was inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields" written by Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian forces before the United States entered World War I. Distributing replicas of the original Fladers' poppy originated in some of the allied countries immediately after the Armistice.
No definite organized distribution of poppies on a nationwide scale was conducted in America until 1921, when the Franco-American Children's League distributed poppies ostensibly for the benefit of children in the devastated areas of France and Belgium.
Madam Guerin, who was recognized as "the poppy lady from France", sought and received the cooperation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. early in 1922, after the Franco-American Children's League was dissolved. The VFW conducted a poppy campaign prior to Memorial Day, 1922, using only poppies that were made in France. In the 1923 poppy campaign, due to the difficulty and delay in getting poppies from France, the VFW made use of a surplus of French poppies that were on hand and the balance was provided by a firm in New York City manufacturing artificial flowers.
It was during the 1923 campaign that the VFW evolved the idea which resulted in the VFW Buddy Poppy fashioned by disabled and needy veterans who were paid for their work as a practical means of providing assistance for these Comrades. IN FEBRUARY, 1924, THE VFW REGISTERED THE NAME 'BUDDY POPPY' WITH THE UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE, AND A CERTIFICATE WAS ISSUED ON MAY 20, 1924, GRANTING THE VFW ALL TRADEMARK RIGHTS IN THE NAME OF "BUDDY' UNDER THE CLASSIFICATION OF ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS. The VFW has made that trademark a guarantee that all poppies bearing that name and the VFW label are genuine products of the work of disabled and needy veterans. No other organization, firm or individual can make legal use of the name "BUDDY" POPPY.
Today, VFW Buddy Poppies are assembled by disabled, needy, and aging veterans in VA Hospitals, State veterans homes and domiciliary across the country. The majority of proceeds derived from each campaign conducted by VFW Posts and their Ladies Auxiliaries is retained locally to provide for veteran services and welfare. The minimal assessment (cost of Buddy Poppies) to VFW units provides compensation to the veterans who assembled the poppies, provides financial assistance in maintaining state and national veterans' rehabilitation and service programs, and partially supports the VFW National Home for orphans and widows of our nation's veterans.
Buddy Poppy proceeds represent no profit to any VFW unit. All the money contributed by the public for Buddy Poppies is used in the cause of veterans welfare, or for the well-being of their needy dependents and the orphans of veterans.