At the beginning of the first World War in the Spring of 1915, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, was inspired by the sight of poppies that were covering the battle-scarred fields. He had just lost a friend, and wrote a now famous poem called "In Flanders Fields."
Moina Michael, an American academic, was inspired by his poem to make and sell red silk poppies which were then brought to England by a French woman named Anna Guerin. In 1921, the Royal British Legion was formed, and it ordered 9 million of these poppies in order to sell them on Nov. 11 of that same year. The first ever "Poppy Appeal" raised over £106,000 — which was a considerable amount of money at the time — and it was used to help WWI veterans to find employment and housing.
The following year, a Poppy Factory was set up, employing disabled ex-servicemen. Today, it still produces millions of poppies each year, which are mostly worn in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as a symbol of Remembrance and hope.