Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Poppy Poster Contest

In the United States we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11. It is a day to honor the men and women who have served in our country's military.

A lot of my family have proudly served. Some served voluntarily and others were drafted.Being drafted does not necessarily mean that they were not proud to serve. It simply means that their choice was restricted as to timing.

Many of our military have returned home after giving their time to no jobs, no family, and other insurmountable problems. Most can regain a fairly normal life but some cannot.

If they had to endure the horrors of war things are worse. I have often said of the Viet Nam War that no one came back whole. If they were fortunate enough to have whole bodies they still had the emotional scars. Usually those are more difficult to treat.

So we honor our veterans... those who were lucky enough to come home alive. There might be parades or other celebrations.

Veterans organizations sponsor a lot of the celebrations. They are the ones who try to keep us mindful that there are people who were willing to give their all for the rest of us. We need to remember.

So one of the things they do is to sell poppies. Not real poppies. The veterans and the veterans auxiliary organizations used to make them by hand. I think they are probably mass produced these days. Then for a donation you can proudly show your support for these wonderful people.

The money they collect is used in various ways. Medical help, job counseling, family services are only a few. I buy a poppy every year to honor the veterans of my family. My father and brother are the main ones but there are so many others.

When I was very young we honored the veterans in various ways. There was a parade and a trip to the cemetery to also honor the fallen as well as veterans who had aged and died. There were activities in the park. It was a beautiful way to remember.

At school we made posters in art class. We were to make a piece of art to show our thoughts about Veterans Day. A poppy was to be a part of the poster. We each took a donation to school to purchase the poppy for our posters.

Our posters were then displayed in various businesses around town. Mine was in the little grocery store a block and a half from my house. I was so proud.

I do not remember too much about the poster. I do remember there was an airplane and the poppy.  Nothing more. But it must have been pretty good.

A committee went up and down the street looking at all the posters on display. They judged them all and chose the top three. Mine took third place.

I was in second grade. These posters were from the whole school and mine was third best!

We were notified at school of the winners. I do not remember who else won but they were all older than I was. I did not even know there was a contest until that day.

My prize was a check for $1.00. That is correct; one dollar. It seemed like a fortune. It was 1954 and a dollar could buy a lot.

On my way home from school I stopped at the little store where my poster was right there in the front window. I told the owners who I considered to be my very close friends that I had won third place. They were proud of me.

The next day my poster was still in the window only now it had a third place ribbon attached to it. Wow. I felt famous.

The owners of the store cashed my check for me that day. I bought a half gallon of ice cream so my whole family could celebrate with me. I also bought myself an ice cream treat to eat on the way home and stuck the change (yes there was change!) in my pocket.

The Poppy Poster Contest is the only prize I have ever won for something like that. It was a big deal.

Remember at least one veteran today. Even if you are not in the United States your country has veterans too. They are important people.


  1. Yes, we should (but do not always) remember to honor veterans. Whenever possible, I would buy one of those poppies and hang it on my car mirror until it fades or fell off.
    What an honor that certainly that poster award was for you, Emma. I was so amazed to read that the $1 prize not only bought you an ice cream treat, but that you could also treat your family AND get change back.

    1. Those were "the good old days". A dollar bought a lot. I also always buy poppies and display them proudly in my car. They fade but I leave them up until the next time they are available. I like to think it makes my father feel good. He was very proud of being a veteran. I am not so sure my brother was that proud of being a veteran but it was a different time that they served.

  2. Dear Emma,
    a moving post! We have a relative who served in the Vietnam War and came back - understandably - as a changed and broken man.
    When I think of the young men here ad otherwhere who went to Afghanistan, I shiver. .
    The prize-winning picture (congratulations!): did you get it back - and do you have it still?

    1. My brother did not make it back from Viet Nam alive. I also know many veterans from the Viet Nam era. None of them came back whole. Whether it was body or spirit they all have permanent damage. My heart bleeds for your relative... I have seen it too many times. As for the poster I do not remember what happened to it. I think I may have given it to my dear friends who owned the grocery store that displayed it.