To the editor:

On Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29, members of the Capt. Lester S. Wass American Legion Post No. 3 will be offering red poppies in front of a number of businesses and along Stacey Boulevard 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 had 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., which 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 and largest veterans organization in the United States, having been established in 1919. It has a long and distinguished history. This year we celebrate the centennial of the American Legion, 1919-2019. Capt. Lester S. Wass American Legion Post No. 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 No. 3 are veterans of wartime eras, ranging from World War I to the recent ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting our fellow veterans. It is also an organization that gives back to the community, especially scholarships, support for returning veterans, “The Wall That Heals” that came to Gloucester in 2015, and 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 Legionnaires 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 through the Cape Ann and surrounding area. And all the meals are free thanks to generous donations from both the American Legion members and other caring members and businesses 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 come with a “can do” attitude.

Proceeds from the sale of these poppies will be used by American Legion Post No. 3 to support our many programs. We also raised funds more than a year ago to help our fellow Legionnaires in Houston who were severely impacted during Hurricane Harvey. We also recently provided financial support to the service men and women at Coast Guard Station Gloucester during the recent government shutdown when they were not receiving any pay. Over the past years, the members of American Legion Post No. 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 Friday and Saturday 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, American Legion Post No. 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 No. 3

Post Office Box 122

Gloucester, MA 01931-0122

On behalf of my fellow veterans, I want to thank you for your support.

Mark L. Nestor

Commander

Capt. Lester S. Wass, American Legion Post No. 3

Gloucester