Angelina County veterans try to keep "memorial poppies" tradition alive

Angelina County veterans try to keep "memorial poppies" tradition alive

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor those past and present who served in the armed forces.

Veterans services organizations here in East Texas want people to remember an important symbol, a small paper flower.

Rita Redd, president of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit #113, hands out poppies at a local tractor supply store. But, in the back of her mind, she said she knows that a lot of the people taking the flowers have no idea what they mean.

"They just don't seem interested enough to get involved, which is sad," Redd said.

The poppies became a symbol for fallen veterans after a mass soldier grave in France, during World War I, became a garden filled with the red flower.

But, some feel that this was a tradition held only by the earlier generation of veterans.

"Older veterans are dying off, and the younger veterans, for whatever reason don't want to join," Redd said.

Veteran, Gregory Thames, said he understands the previously bad economy might have kept younger veterans from getting involved.

"There are still patriots out there," Thames said. "It's just a lot of them, the money that they need to do things, these types of things, is elsewhere. What they do have is spent on their family, like they should."

But, some still want to learn the old ways.

"Something so simple as a poppy reminds people of what a family member did for someone else even if nobody served in their family," said East Texan, Deundra Jackson.

The symbol handed out by the American Legion volunteers aren't real poppies, but they are made by real veterans.

"They deserve honor," Thames said. "They didn't get to come home. They didn't get to have the family. They didn't get to share the things that we have."

The American Legion Auxiliary Unit #113 only hand out poppies a few times a year including Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

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