Poppy tradition continues

Paper flowers will be on sale Friday to benefit disabled veterans

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— For most of the 60 years that Eunice Dorr has been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, she has distributed poppies to raise money for disabled veterans and their families.

Betty Kemry has been distributing the poppies with Dorr for 56 years. That tradition will extend another year Friday, when the two Routt County women will sit in front of Safeway and City Market grocery stores in Steamboat Springs to sell poppies handmade by disabled veterans in the Veteran Administration Hospital in Cheyenne, Wyo. The poppy sale is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.

"These men are in the hospital permanently, and they don't have anything," Dorr said Wednesday. "For some of them, that's their home, because they aren't able to do anything else."

All proceeds from the paper poppy sales will benefit disabled veterans and their families. In past years, proceeds have been used locally to help a woman save her furniture from being repossessed and to buy eyeglasses for low-income children in Routt County, Dorr said.

Most of the money goes directly to Veterans Admin--istration hospitals.

"We have hospitals in Grand Junction, Rifle and Denver," Kemry said.

The poppy fundraising tradition began in Steamboat in 1922, when residents used poppies to decorate the graves of veterans, wore them on their clothes and used them to decorate their cars.

"One person had one on his motorcycle all year long," Kemry said.

Residents of all ages take part in the fundraiser, Dorr said. Many have made it an annual event.

"The same people have been contributing for years and years and years," she said.

The American Legion selected the crepe paper poppy because it provided the maximum amount of money for disabled veterans and the least amount of work to create.

The idea to replicate real poppies dates back to World War I, when the flowers grew in abundance in the fields of France, among the horrors and death of the war.

"Poppies symbolize bloodshed," Dorr said.

But they also symbolize hope. They create a sense of pride and a way to support veterans.

"The public has been so generous to the 'poppy ladies' through the years," Dorr said. "And those of us who have been distributing the poppies wish to say a heartfelt 'Thank you' to each and every one who contributes to our worthwhile program."

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