Throwback Thursday: VFW Buddy Poppy Drive,… - Wyoming Medical Center

Throwback Thursday: VFW Buddy Poppy Drive, Memorial Day, 1953

By Kristy Bleizeffer May 27, 2021

In 1953, Memorial Day was celebrated on Saturday, May 30 -- the traditional date of the holiday. (Observance was switched to the fourth Monday in May in 1971, when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved four holidays to specified Mondays in order to create three-day weekends.)

In Casper, local Veterans of Foreign War posts began their yearly Buddy Poppy Drive one week before Memorial Day, recruiting six-year-old Lorraine Keller to deliver the first poppy to the hospital bed of Talleck M. Johnson, according to this Tribune-Herald photo.

VFW Buddy Poppies are still assembled by disabled and needy veterans who are paid for their work. The poppies themselves were inspired by the World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields,” written by Canadian physician Lt. Col. John McCrae after he presided over the funeral of a fallen soldier.

Read McCrae’s poem below. May it inspire all of us to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day, 2021.

‘In Flanders Fields’

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.

We are the dead. Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe,
To you, from failing hands, we throw,
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us, who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow,
In Flanders Fields.

- By Lt. Col. John McCrae, May 3, 1915

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday looks back on Wyoming Medical Center’s long, rich history in Natrona County. Special thanks to the Casper College Western History Center, which archives our vast collection of newspaper articles, photographs and other memorabilia; and to "Wyoming Medical Center: A Centennial History," by Rebecca A. Hunt, Ph.D.