The famous poem “In Flounders Fields” is the inspiration behind the sale of red poppies nationwide shortly after World War I
“That was the only thing that was growing in those graveyards at that time, and they would come up always around May. So that’s one of the reasons,” said Poppy Committee Chairperson Mike Barbour.
Known as the “Prince of Poppies,” Barbour is a local Vietnam Veteran and leads what he calls “Buddy Poppy Days” here in town.
In the days leading up to Memorial Day, veterans with the local VFW hand out an artificial version of the flower outside different grocery stores in exchange for a donation.
The money collected stays in the area to help various veterans causes and barber says the need is greater now more than ever.
“Every day we get calls from the caregivers of our older veterans and what people don’t realize is that the VA has so many programs out that they don’t know about,” said Barbour. “60% of our veterans don’t know what benefit’s they’re entitled to.”
Each poppy was handcrafted by a veteran to wear proudly. One of whom calls the poppy, “the flower of hope.”
“Hope that we treat our veterans properly and with respect,” said Cold War veteran John Damusis.
“We can remember and we can memorialize our brothers and sisters who’ve been killed in action but we can honor them best by helping our troops today and our veterans today because that’s what it’s all about.”
In the last 15 years that Barbour has been leading the Naperville poppies sales, the initiative has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars.
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