‘Buddy Poppy’ program benefits veterans
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
North Grosvenordale - posted Wed., Jun. 1, 2011
Carol Preston and Barbara Diaz sat at a table at the Thompson transfer station on Saturday, May 28, with bouquets of tiny red poppies. On one of the busiest days at the transfer station, the two women were called to cars every few minutes. Drivers would stop and hand over money, and Preston and Diaz would hand over flowers.
Preston, president of the Thompson Memorial VFW Post 1088 Ladies Auxiliary, said the annual event raises money for all disabled veterans or veterans in need of assistance. Some money goes to veterans hospitals such as those in Rocky Hill and West Haven. Post 1088 has even bought clothes and paid veterans’ utility bills with the money. No money from sales of the flowers goes to any VFW unit.
Carol’s husband, Elmer Preston, stood at the transfer station post checking stickers and waving people through. He is the commander of Thompson Post 1088 and has been active in the VFW for 42 years.
“It comes and it goes,” he said about the country’s show of patriotism around Memorial Day. “Everyone was very patriotic after Sept. 11. But people start forgetting until another soldier gets killed.”
Preston makes it a point to visit veterans in the hospital. “It's tough,” he said. “Some of them have nobody.”
On Saturday, many people stopped to remember.
Michael Bodreau pulled his truck out of the way so his sister Jillian could hand over some money to Preston. Bodreau has been donating to the Buddy Poppy program for years. It’s a tradition in his family, he said.
The VFW has been selling poppies since 1922. The artificial flowers are reminders of the real poppies that grew wild all over the battle fields of Belgium at the start of World War I. The carnage had been so horrific that it inspired a Canadian, Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D., to pen the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” just seven years earlier, in 1915. The artificial flowers are made solely by disabled and hospitalized veterans and have come to symbolize the sacrifices made by all those who have fought and died in service to their country.
In Flanders Fields
by Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D.
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.