The Remembrance Poppy

Red Poppy Boutonnieres for Remembrance Day, Veterans Day & Memorial Day

The last time I was in the UK in November I was surprised to see almost everybody on the street wearing a Red Poppy on their lapel, jacket  or raincoat from early October until Mid November. It seemed like one could buy these inexpensive plastic flowers on pretty much any street corner, but they were strangely flat and rather ugly looking. At the same time, they are a symbol of remembrance and hence I was totally fine with it. Nevertheless, I wasn’t entirely happy and tried to find a better, more realistic example of a poppy myself, but even in London and online I was without luck. Some websites had flowers that looked more three dimensional, but nothing looked like a real poppy. We always wanted to produce products of quality that last rather than throw-away-items that have to be rebought continuously. Ever since we offered Fort Belvedere boutonnieres, we have received requests for a poppy boutonniere, and so I knew I was not alone. After many prototypes, custom colors and experiments, we are very proud to finally present our selection of 3 Poppy Boutonnieres! If you take care of them, you should be able to wear them for years to come.

Why a poppy you might ask. Well, November 11, 1918 was Armistice Day and today it is Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Great Britain. For that reason, millions of people wear a poppy pinned on their lapel to honor and commemorate all those you fought in the war and the one’s who suffered from it. Unfortunately, most people wear cheap plastic flowers that have no aesthetic value but are simply worn as a symbol for remembrance. Hence, we created out Fort Belvedere poppies to look like the real poppies from Flanders field in Belgium. So, why exactly Flanders field you might wonder, so let’s start at the beginning.

Vintage Flanders Poppy Poster

Vintage Flanders Poppy Poster

The History of the Remembrance Poppy

Flanders in Belgium was a battlefield during WWI. In May 1915, when a comrade of the Canadian soldier John McCrae died on Flanders Field, John decided to write  a poem about it, and the red flanders poppies alongside the field inspired him to the following lines:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Interestingly, the poppy didn’t really become a symbol for remembrance until November 9th, 1918. It was just two days before Armistice day, and the American woman Moina Michael was on duty at the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries’ headquarters in New York. During a moment of silence, she read the Poem of John McCrae “In Flanders Field Poppy” in a magazine and felt so deeply touched by it that she decided to always wear a red poppy on her lapel as a sign of remembrance for all the people who suffered from the war. Inspired by these lines, she also decided to get some poppies for decoration that day. Once the event was over, three men attending the conference handed her $10 to pay for the decorative flowers. Instead of pocketing the money, Moina Michael decided to buy 25 poppies for the delegates to wear. It took her a while before she found one large and twenty-four small orange red silk poppies at Wanamaker’s department store. She kept one for herself and handed out the other ones from men to wear on their lapels.

In the following two years, she actively tried to spread the word and to persuade governmental institutions to make the poppy the official flower and symbol of servicemen, servicewomen and people who suffered from the war. Finally, on September 29th, 1920, the National American Legion convened in Cleveland and declared the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy as the United States’ national emblem of Remembrance.

What is so special about the Red Poppy boutonniere?

  1. Handmade – It is made by hand and the silk pedals are hand colored, and treated with the utmost attention to detail.
  2. Authentic look – most manmade boutonnieres look fake from 10 yards away and even more so up-close. Fort Belvedere poppy flowers were modeled after authentic poppies  from Flanders field with great attention to detail in order to recreate a natural, authentic look.
  3. Made to be worn through the buttonhole – nothing looks more disgraceful than a boutonniere pinned to the lapel with a safety pin. Fortunately, these boutonnieres are designed just like real flowers to be worn through the buttonhole of your lapel.
  4. Size & proportion – the poppies on the street are flat, whereas the field poppy is delicate and three dimensional. Hence we experimented quite a while until we found the perfect balance for a lapel boutonniere flower, without sacrificing the genuine look
  5. Enduring investment – unlike real flowers or cheap poppies that are thrown away, Fort Belvedere poppies will look the same for years to come so you can wear it on every Remembrance Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day etc. Of course, it is also perfectly suited for everyday wear.
  6. All poppies come in the Fort Belvedere green signature gift box,  which also serves as a great storage device when travelling.
  7. 3 Styles and colors– Poppies change in color and hence we offer a red, orange-red and orange poppy  in different sizes. Get all three for just $90 with free shipping, so you can mix it up
  8. Part of the proceeds will be donated to Veteran Organizations in the U.S.

Summary
Article Name
Red Poppy Boutonnieres for Remembrance Day, Veterans Day & Memorial Day
Description
Get the most authentic Red Poppy Silk Boutonniere available. Poppies are the symbol for Remembrance & Veterans and are worn the honor servicemen & women.
Author
29 replies
    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      That depends on how much we sell. The more we sell, the more we donate, once we break even. At this point we plan to donate to the Disabled American Veterans organization, but I can also see us expand that to other Institutions. It all depends on how well things go.
      If we gave a fixed value of let’s say $5 per flower in donations, then things get very complicated with taxes, which would cost our accountant quite a bit of time and money to figure it out, which means less money is donated. At the end of the day, it will be about that much though. I can also see us giving away free flowers etc. What I learned over the years is that it is important to start even though you haven’t figured things out exactly. Trying to get things 100% perfect before you start is the biggest mistake you can make, because 1. it will never be perfect, and 2. you learn so many new things along the way that you would have not known otherwise and 3. opportunities will arise that you didn’t think of beforehand. I am open to suggestions and projects though.
      Personally, I have always been a big believer of anonymous donations because otherwise it is a form of advertisement, and I noticed that there are so many organizations out there who deserve attention, so we see how things go.

  1. Mike Sullivan says:

    I think this is a fantastic idea and they look great. Having served in Europe before, it is moving to see all the poppies being worn on their memorial days. Is there a way to ship via USPS though? $11 to ship a silk flower via UPS is a bit ridiculous.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      We ship all of our flowers in a nice gift box, otherwise it is squished by the time it arrives. Shipping with USPS is a nightmare because it takes much more time and packages get lost regularly. So if we were to ship with USPS, we had to charge more than $11. We don’t make money on the shipping, in fact it costs us money…
      In the U.S. we offer free shipping with orders of $75 or more though.

  2. Clare says:

    They look great.

    The poppies you see in the UK are sold to raise money for the Royal British Legion annual Poppy Appeal. They’re actually paper with a small plastic centre and stem and it’s really interesting how they are made – factories staffed with disabled people make them all year round. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poppy_Factory.

    As you noticed it’s a really big thing over here.

  3. Patrick Crocco says:

    I agree that this is a fantastic idea. In Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion sells poppies (made of plastic I believe) which benefits their services to our veterans. The very popular tradition here is to wear a poppy in remembrance of our veterans until November 11 (Remembrance Day), so if you’re thinking of marketing this in the Great White North then best to start doing so in early October. Perhaps contacting the Legion with your product might result in a joint marketing deal?

    High shipping costs also an impediment for me especially as I’m outside the continental US.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Hello Patrick. Thanks for getting in touch. We should get in touch with the legions and see where that leads us.
      We had planned to advertise them in early October but the first batch was not satisfactory, and so we had to remake all of them. Next year should be much better. Kind regards to Canada and unfortunately, we cannot change shipping charges, that’s simply what we are charged for it.

  4. Steve Naeter says:

    I know you have already thought of this, but another great organization that would benefit from your generosity would be Wounded Warriors.

  5. Ian Brookes-Howells says:

    Being British where NOT wearing poppy is seen as sign of disrespect to our brave men and women who died for us defending our great nation i was disappointed to learn that our American cousins don’t follow this practice. I wear an enamel pin also made by the British Legion to raise money for our armed services people.

  6. Nick says:

    Hey Sven,

    I really like your website and what you offer and I think your offer the public is great!
    However I am a serving soldier in the British Arny and the poppy appeal as someone mentioned earlier is to raise the profile and make donations to the Royal British Legion – the soldier’s charity. 100% of donations made go to the RBL and the poppy is truly symbolic.

    I think if you were to make any profit from the sale of the poppy, no matter if it looks more appealing would be unethical and offensive. Like you have said it is very symbolic and means a lot to the veterans and families of serving and fallen servicemen.

    If you are considering selling poppies then cover your costs and give the rest to the legions. I don’t mean to offend but the look of the poppy is not the important part, it’s the rallying together to remember the sacrifices others have made. Other companies have done similar and because they have t given the proceeds to the charities they have been shamed publicly!

    Keep up the great work though 🙂
    All the best

    Nick

  7. Nick says:

    Hello again Sven,

    I am quite disappointed that you have rejected my message considering THE message I was sending. I was not attacking you.

    I understand you want to try and improve the way people conduct their business and people should strive to look better and improve their style and I like that but (In My Opinion) you have completely missed the context of the poppy.

    The reason the poppy in Britain looks the way it does is because it is not meant to be flashy or showy, as we mentioned, it is purely a powerful symbol. Being cheap to produce it doesn’t cost the producers a lot therefore it can be bought by the British Public year on year by donations made to the Royal British Legion – The Soldier’s Charity. There is no investment in the context of the poppy, it demonstrates that you have donated along with the rest of the public that wears the ‘cheap’ poppy.

    As I said in my post you removed, to make a profit from this symbol is unethical and can be considered offensive. You have mentioned that the sale of your poppies will go towards veteran’s charities and that is great but the ‘enduring investment’ simply means that money won’t be going to the charities year after year which is detrimental!

    The rest of what you do with Gentleman’s Gazette is great! It really is, it’s just that I think you’re missing the big picture when it comes to this particular topic.

    Again, all the best Sven

    Nick
    British Army Serving Soldier

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Nick,

      First of all, websites have auto spam filters because otherwise we would already have 13,564 comments for this post. Your comment was automatically filtered and I just approved it.

      Every country has their memorial flower. For example, in France it is the cornflower and we sell those in our shop as well, because we are specialized in high quality boutonnieres.

      As you know the remembrance poppies is an American invention, not a British one. I understand that it is big in England, and rightly so, at the same time it is not exclusive to England or Great Britain.
      If someone wants to buy one that’s fine, and we donate more than the cost of a poppy of the British Legion to a Charity of our choice. There are so many great Canadian, American, and I am sure English charities that deserve our support.

      Just because the Poppy is an exclusive domain of the British Legion in the UK, doesn’t mean that people cannot create poppies in other parts of the world. Everyone has the right to mourn and remember in their own way with their own symbol. especially since servicemen and women of all nationalities have served their countries.

      Respectfully yours,

      Sven Raphael Schneider

  8. Alexei Cavendish says:

    Dear Sven,
    I am from England and have always been disappointed with the quality of remembrance poppies, so I think this is such a good idea. I would LOVE to buy one, but I am wary to buy anything that requires it be shipped via UPS. I find they take ages longer than the postal service, deliver at inopportune times, and, failing delivery, require that one travel long distances (to their depot) to retrieve the item. Is there any way you could offer a USPS option for these. I think it would be much cheaper and much quicker in delivery and is still trackable.
    Thanks,
    Alexei

  9. Jerry says:

    Gorgeous, Sven! It’s so nice to see artificial poppies of this quality. Here in Canada, I’ve always thought the cheapness of the ridiculously fake-looking felt imitations clashed with the nature of Remembrance Day as a somber holiday of respect.

    I’m glad you’ve taken it upon yourself to recreate this lovely flower in high-quality silk form. After being wowed by the craftsmanship of my previous Fort Belvedere floral purchase, I’d love to wear one of these in my lapel on Remembrance Day. It’s likely a bit late to order one to use this year (especially with customs), but I can see this, along with a few of your other designs, being staples in my wardrobe in the not-too-distant future. Please don’t discontinue these!

  10. Andy Clarke says:

    Dear Sven, I have to agree with Nick, no profit whatsoever should be made from remembrance poppies.

    I’m frankly surprised that you would even consider it. I’m sure you mean no offence, but the whole tone of this is too flippant.

    The “cheap” poppies we wear in the UK have so much meaning, from the way they are manufactured, to the people who give up their time to sell them – many being veterans who have more than done their bit.

    All of your products are excellent and I commend the work you do on the Gazette, but I would ask you to rethink this venture. It’s the kind of thing that would get you very bad press in the UK, not least amongst the more sensationalist and jingoistic red tops when you consider your heritage – and I mean no offence here myself I’m just stating a fact.

    Kind regards, Andy Clarke

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Andy,
      I appreciate you sharing your opinion, and of course you are entitled to it. At the end of the day, the Remembrance Poppy is an American invention and we all can choose how and in what way we want to remember people. I believe in quality goods, and don’t want to support a throw-away culture but each to his own.
      Always bear in mind that the poppy is a flower, that grows in many places and countries, and if one wants to wear them and remember the people who fought in the war or the ones who suffered from it, then this is perfectly legitimate.

      We produce boutonnieres that look like real flowers and we have done so with many flowers. For example the Edelweiss is the Swiss National Flower, the Blue Cornflower is the French Memorial flower etc. We had lots of requests for a poppy and so we created one. It’s as simple as that.

  11. Mike W says:

    Hi Sven,

    As the Treasurer of a Royal British Legion branch I wanted to both congratulate you on the quality of the poppies and on hoping to make a donation after costs. Rest assured that as far as I’m aware the Legion also has poppies made by commercial organisations, sold through their own magazine and that it is only monies after cost that are donated.

    I’ve sent you a link to the branch website from where you can find photo galleries for a series of Remembrance Sundays in our town. The key for me is the high number of youth organisations involved, which should ensure that remembrance is in safe hands for the next generations. For the last couple of years my daughter, who is now 18, is the Legion Standard Bearer.

    We will remember them

    kindest regards

    Mike W

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Mike,
      Thank you very much for your kind words. As mentioned, we will donate to an honorable organization, but there are so many and we are currently narrowing down our options. At the end of the day, it is a win-win for everybody.

  12. J D says:

    My local library has a “Knitting Group” meeting each week to have a natter & knit items such as toys, dolls, hats, etc for sale; proceeds to our local Air Ambulance Service . Last year they knitted hundreds of red poppies and made over $1700 for the British Legion. Your local library, or a ladies group, might adopt this idea.

Comments are closed.