Veterans, Red Poppies and Memorial Day


Veterans, Red Poppies and Memorial Day

Statistics show that we are losing 430 WWII Veteran’s daily. 16 million served and we have as few as 690,000 left today. Since this is my May article it seemed an appropriate time to share some information on Veteran Benefits and an another wonderful program called Honor Flight.

First of all, Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor the dead. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. If you have the opportunity to visit a local cemetery, take a flag or some flowers to a gravesite of someone you know who served our country. Always remember, “Freedom is not Free.”

After witnessing the arrival of WWII Veterans at the WWII Memorial in WA DC recently it reminded me once again the importance of my work and helping elderly people but also how important it is to make it a priority to ensure I educate people and make them aware of the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance program for all Veterans. Wartime veterans and their surviving spouses, 65 years and older, may be entitled to a tax-free benefit called Aid and Attendance provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs. The Benefit is designed to provide financial aid to help offset the cost of long-term care for those who need assistance with the daily activities of living such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring. When I first heard of this program I was skeptical, but I have since seen people that otherwise may have ended up on Medicaid or worse yet forced to move that are now receiving this benefit and able to stay in their home or apartments. Like all government programs there are requirements and an eligible criterion. Here is the link to the program but please, feel free to call me with any questions.

Now, the Honor Flight Program, I’m adding this in this article because it is certainly one of the most wonderful programs I have ever seen. My husband and I soon will be a part of it. Their Mission: “To transport our heroes on “One Last Mission” – a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at the memorials built in their honor. This trip is free to the veteran, and made possible solely through individual donations and corporate support – NO Federal funds are allocated to this program. With the hard work and dedication of Honor Flight hubs throughout the U.S., and their communities, over 100,000 veterans have made this cathartic journey.” It is currently only for WII Veterans but I’m told at some point they hope to also add Korean and Viet Nam Veterans. Currently there is an urgency to get to as many WWII Vet’s as possible for these flights because of the rapid declining number of them remaining. If you are a WWII Vet or know one that would like the opportunity to see the military memorials in WA D.C., please go to their website and apply.


Lastly, why a red poppy? In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red that grows on fields where valor led. It seems to signal to the skies. That blood of heroes never dies.”

She conceived the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day to honor those who lost their lives. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies.

I’ve covered three topics in this article but all intertwined, all about Veterans. Honor them, thank them and we need to help them when possible. There are far too many Veterans in our country who are going without. This is a disgrace and should never happen in the United States of America. If you know someone who needs help, call or email me, as an Eldercare Consultant I can help.

Author: Jill Bellis, Eldercare Consultant