To the editor:
This Saturday, members of the Capt. Lester S. Wass, American Legion Post No. 3, of which I have the honor of being recently elected commander, will be offering red poppies in front of a number of businesses in Gloucester for donations from the public.
The history of this event is from the battlefields of World War I, where weary soldiers brought home the memory of a barren landscape transformed by wild poppies, red as the blood that had soaked the soil. The red poppy became a symbol of the sacrifice of lives in war and represented the hope that none has died in vain.
The American Legion poppy has continued to bloom for the casualties of five wars, its petals of paper bound together for veterans by veterans, reminding America each year that the men and women who have served and died for their country deserved to be remembered.
The poppy as a symbol was taken from a line in the poem “in Flanders Fields” written on the battlefield during World War I by Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D. It begins, “In Flanders Fields, the poppies Blow between the crosses, row in row that marks our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below...”
The American Legion is the oldest veterans organization in the United States having been established in 1919. It has a long and distinguished history. Capt. Lester S. Wass American Legion Post #3, also has a long and distinguished history as it stands at the end of Washington Street in the shadow of the Joan of Arc statute and welcomes every visitor to our fair city.
It reminds our citizens and visitors of the sacrifices that were made by our young men and women to preserve and protect this nation and to keep it free from tyranny and terror.
Members of American Legion Post 3 are veterans of wartime eras ranging from World War II to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting our fellow veterans. It is also an organization that gives back to the community, especially in the holiday dinners that it serves to both fellow veterans and other citizens in the community on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
These meals are prepared by members and other citizens at the Legion Hall and are served both in the Legion Hall as well as delivered to fellow citizens who are less mobile. And all the meals are free thanks to generous donations from both the American Legion members and other caring members of the community.
We want to continue that tradition. The Post has welcomed a number of recent Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as new members and they also come with a “can do” attitude.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of these poppies will be used by Post 3 to support our many programs. Over the past years, the members of American Legion Post 3 have raised thousands of dollars from the generosity and patriotism of the citizens of Gloucester for the support of those who need our assistance, support for citizens in our community, and support, in the form of scholarships, for our future generation.
Isn’t that a message that we want to continue to send to our young men and women who continue to answer the call of duty in this troubling and violent time? That we will never forget their sacrifices and that we will always be there to support them when they return!
So I call upon the citizens of Gloucester, when you see an American Legion member on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013 selling red poppies, remember why and remember for whom they are being sold.
Please help us help those who need our support in their time of travail and hardship.
To our businesses in Gloucester, Post 3 would welcome any contributions that you might desire to provided to help our fellow veterans and the community.
You can send donations to Capt. Lester S. Wass, American Legion Post 3, P.O. Box 122,
Gloucester, MA 01931-0122 On behalf of my fellow veterans, I want to thank you for your support.
MARK L. NESTOR
Middle Street, Gloucester
Vietnam, Class of ‘70