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Buddy Poppy Child Promotes National Home for 94th Year

Since 1922 the red poppy has stood as a symbol for those who shed their blood for their country.

Named “Buddy Poppy” to represent the buddies who never made it home, VFW members distribute the crimson flowers every year around Veterans Day and Memorial Day to raise funds to support programs that assist veterans, including the VFW National Home.

The year 1930 marked the first year of the Buddy Poppy Child when a youngster who lived at the VFW National Home was selected to represent the Home at the national level on behalf of not only the Home but the VFW.

In the early days the Buddy Poppy Child even took a trip to Washington, DC to pin a poppy on the President.

The Buddy Poppy Program Today

In 94 years, the program has actually changed very little. Each year a child is selected among the children living at the National Home to serve as the Buddy Poppy Child for one year. That commitment involves attending the VFW National Convention and giving a speech to all those in attendance, as well as representing the Home on other special events. In recent years, the Buddy Poppy Child has pinned a buddy poppy on Michigan’s governor.

“It is a huge honor for the child. This is a chance for them to talk about their parent or the veteran in their family who qualified them to live at the home to show what it means that they served our country. They show that they are proud of their parent and proud to be a military kid,” said program director Angie Harkins.

Harkins explains that the Buddy Poppy Child serves as a face of the VFW National Home representing all the other children who live there.

How to Become a Buddy Poppy Child

The application process for the Buddy Poppy Child begins in March. Applicants are required to prepare a speech highlighting their veteran parent or relative who made them eligible to live at the home, as well as why they like living on campus. Applicants then read their speech in front of a group of staff assembled for that purpose. Factors considered are presentation, school attendance and grades, and availability. 

100 Year Anniversary Marks Big Year for Buddy Poppy Child

As the VFW National Home approaches its 100th-anniversary in 2025, this year’s Buddy Poppy Child will be especially busy.  Previously, the newly chosen Buddy Poppy Child begins their tenure at the National Convention in July, but this year the Buddy Poppy Child-elect will shadow the current child, Layla, from April until July.

Historically, a new child is selected each year, but in cases where there is not a suitable applicant a Buddy Poppy Child may be asked to serve an additional year.

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