The history of the Poppy appeal is entwined with the history of The Royal British Legion which began in 1921 just 3 years after the end of the Great War. During my school days here in England in the 1960’s and 1970’s as part of our school curriculum we learnt the importance of World War 1 and what we owed to the generations who fought defending our country and those who lost there lives.
Wearing the poppy during the 2 weeks of the Poppy Appeal is an acknowledgement of our thanks for all the sacrifices for the past and present wars.
The British Legion was founded in 1921 as a voice for the ex-Service community as a merger of four organisations: the Comrades of the Great War, The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers and the Officers’ Association. It was granted a Royal Charter on 29th May 1971 to mark its fiftieth anniversary which gives the Legion the privilege of the prefix ‘Royal’. Earl Haig, commander of the Battle of the Somme and Passchendaele was one of the founders of the Legion, and was President until his death.
The Legion organises a fund-raising drive each year in the weeks before Remembrance Sunday, during which artificial poppies, meant to be worn on clothing, are offered to the public in return for a charitable donation. Over the course of the preceding year a team of around 50 people, the majority of them disabled and ex-Service connected – work all year round producing millions of poppies at the factory in Richmond. However, pin badge poppies are increasingly being worn, and prove to be extremely popular, with locations often selling out of the pin badges very quickly.
The idea of poppies dates back to the poem In Flanders Fields about the First World War, after which the Legion was founded. Poppies are worn until Remembrance Sunday to remember the fallen and injured of the First World War, and implicitly of all wars.
The Poppy Appeal has a higher profile than any other charity appeal in the UK, with the poppies ubiquitous from late October until mid-November every year and worn by the general public, politicians, the Royal Family, and others in public life. It has also become increasingly common to see poppies on cars, lorries and other forms of public transport, such as aeroplanes, buses and trams. Many Magazines and newspapers also display the poppy on their publications (usually on the cover page), and some Twitter users are adding poppies to their avatars as a Twibbon.
The Royal British Legion has an extensive network of Social Clubs called Legion Halls throughout the United Kingdom: sometimes these are known as United Services or Ex-Servicemens Clubs. The Royal British Legion also has branches in the Republic of Ireland, and spread around the world, mostly in mainland Europe, but also in America, and Azerbaijan amongst other world nations.
In 2010 the aim of the appeal is to raise 36 Million Pounds ( or US $ 50 Million ).
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The Chinese call Britain ‘The Island of Hero’s’ which I think sums up what we British are all about. We British are inquisitive and competitive and are always looking over the horizon to the next adventure and discovery.
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