By Rachel King

Opelika Observer

To some, a poppy is just a small red flower, but to those like Judy Daughtry, who comes from a long line of military service, the poppy symbolizes the blood shed protecting America’s freedoms.

Dating back to WWI with the publication of a poem titled “In Flanders Fields” by Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D., the red poppy has become a memorial to those who have sacrificed their lives in each of the major wars.

The Poppy program is a part of the American Legion Auxiliary – a nation-wide program whose members are direct female relatives of wartime veterans.

The local 152nd branch is made up of some 300 members, and this past year raised more than $1,000 through donations and the giving out of poppies.

Unlike other organizations, donating to the legion directly benefits local veterans, whether through the Bill Nicholas State Veterans home or helping purchase needed items for local veteran’s hospitals.

Daughtry is currently vice president of the organization and has deep roots in military service. Not only is she married to a Vietnam War veteran, but the couple has two sons, one who served in Desert Storm, and the other in Afghanistan.

“It was all very red, white and blue for me,” Daughtry said. “I now have the distinct pleasure to serve the men and women who have served us so faithfully. At some point and time these individuals signed a blank check saying they would give their lives for this country, so it’s an honor to be able to give something back to them.”

Daughtry also explained how the Poppy program is a way to get the community involved by displaying patriotism and remembering those who have served.

The flowers will be given out May 26 at various locations such as Opelika City Hall, Kroger and other local businesses, with hopes that they will raise awareness and inspire support for local veterans.