BARNEGAT, NJ – Those little red paper poppies that suddenly reappear in May have great significance to Americans. So much so that Mayor John Novak proclaimed May as “Poppy Month” at the most recent township committee meeting.
“As a mayor, there is a lot of joy in certain functions,” Novak admitted. “One of them is when I get the chance to honor our veterans, which adds to the revwards of the job. It’s something I do on behalf of the whole governing body.”
Barnegat VFW Post #10092 Commander Frank Healy stepped to the front of the room as Novak read from the proclamation. The poppy stands as a living symbol reminding all of the supreme sacrifices made by veterans. Many have lost their lives, their health, and/or livelihood in defense of the freedoms provided to all Americans.
The poppies distributed annually by VFW members are actually handmade by disabled American veterans. Donations collected are exclusively directed to benefit disabled and disadvantaged veterans, as well as the widows and children of deceased veterans.
“Whereas, all patriotic citizens should be grateful to the men and women of armed forces on constant vigil for the defense of our nation,” read Novak as he presented Healy with the proclamation.
By coincidence, many of those gathered at the township meeting were most likely veterans themselves. A number came to support the township’s resolution regarding second amendment sanctuary.
“I would like to thank our community for coming out when we have our “Buddy Poppy” program,” said Healy. “Our only revenue is buddy poppies, which gets us through the entire year.”
According to Healy, members begin the distribution in the beginning of May and continue through Memorial Day. That said, VFW members make the poppies available on other dates as well.
“The program covers many things, not just limited to veterans,” Healy explained. “It also helps fund our scholarships to the schools, and our scholarships and decorations for police, fire, and other emergency responders.”
While some people hang poppies in from their car mirrors, others pin them to their jackets. Although others hand out poppies, the VFW was the first veterans’ organization to start the tradition on a national basis. The symbolic distribution date back to a start date of Memorial Day in 1922.