(WASHINGTON) — Poppy flowers will add a huge flash of color to the National Mall this Memorial Day weekend.
A pop-up installation of 645,000 red flowers, encased in a translucent structure, were installed Thursday night and will adorn the southwestern side of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
The “Poppy Memorial” by the United Services Automobile Association and the National Parks Service is on display near the Lincoln, Korean War and World War II memorials to honor men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military since World War I.
Each poppy flower symbolizes a life of a fallen service member and their sacrifice.
“The Poppy Memorial visualizes the magnitude of that sacrifice and reminds us all of the price that was paid,” said Retired Vice Admiral John Bird, the automobile association’s senior vice president of military affairs. “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 abundance of poppies was inspired by the World War I poem, “In Flanders Field.”
A portion of the poem reads, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row, / That mark our place, and in the sky, / The larks, still bravely singing, fly, / Scarce heard amid the guns below. / We are the dead; short days ago / We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, / Loved and were loved, and now we lie / In Flanders fields.”
The temporary monument stretches 133 feet long and is 8.5 feet tall. Its flowers were provided by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion Family.
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