A temporary memorial installation is coming to the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. this Memorial Day weekend, courtesy of USAA and the National Park Service.
The Poppy Memorial is a translucent structure that measures 133 feet long, 8 1/2 feet tall and is filled with more than 645,000 poppy flowers — honoring every man and woman that gave their life in service of our nation since World War I.
The red poppy became synonymous with the fallen troops during the First World War — and has remained a symbol of their sacrifice ever since. This symbolism originated because of the war poem "In Flanders Field" written by the Canadian Physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.
"In Flanders fields the poppies grow, between the crosses, row on row..."
"The poppy flower symbolizes those who gave the last full measure in defense of our freedoms," said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs. "The Poppy Memorial visualizes the magnitude of that sacrifice and reminds us all of the price that was paid. We are grateful to the National Park Service for allowing us to display this inspiring and educational exhibit among the permanent monuments, as a testament to the enduring bravery of our men and women in uniform."
The National Mall in our nation's capital is a 2-mile-long expanse containing iconic venues like the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, but it continues to evolve. For example, The GWOT Memorial Foundation is currently making progress towards building a new (permanent) memorial on the National Mall to honor those who have died supporting the Global War on Terror.
This isn't the first time a temporary memorial will be on display in Washington D.C., but it is a particularly meaningful one. As the United States approaches 18 years of combat deployments, the number of Americans who have served during wartime grows — and thus so too does the number of American families directly affected by war. Each Memorial Day holds a personal significance to our countrymen and women.
From May 25 through May 27, the Poppy Memorial will be open to the public daily for viewing from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. The memorial will be displayed on the southwestern side of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool – with the Lincoln Memorial to the west, the Korean War Memorial to the south, the reflecting pool due north and the World War II Memorial to the east. The more than 645,000 poppies are a combination of VFW "Buddy"® poppies and poppies from the American Legion Family, both programs designed to encourage Americans to wear poppies in remembrance of the fallen.
Additionally, visitors to the installation on the National Mall will find on-site kiosks to dedicate a digital poppy. Those unable to visit the Poppy Memorial in Washington, D.C. can visit www.poppyinmemory.com to dedicate a digital poppy to a fallen loved one or as a gesture of appreciation for those who sacrificed all. The site also allows users to find previously dedicated poppies that memorialize the servicemembers lost since World War I, and to directly share a "Poppy In Memory" on Facebook and Twitter.