Lindsay Feris relishes her role in ongoing Memorial Day activities on South Whidbey, being from a family steeped in military tradition.
“I think doing this kind of helps me to support them, in a way,” she said. “I feel good about what I’m doing.”
Her Memorial Day companion, Emma Leggett, agrees with the seriousness of their campaign.
“It’s fun to see new people,” she said. “It’s fun to do something nice for veterans, because veterans are nice to us.”
Lindsay, 14, a freshman at South Whidbey High School, and Emma, 10, a fourth-grader at South Whidbey Elementary School, share this year’s honor of being American Legion Post 141 Ladies Auxiliary Poppy Girls. Emma’s older sister Nicole was last year’s Poppy Girl.
Every year since the 1920s, the 900,000-member Auxiliary chapters throughout the nation select Poppy Girls to represent their groups at local Memorial Day ceremonies, and to help distribute the free deep-red crepe-paper poppy lapel pins in exchange for donations to benefit veterans’ programs.
The pin drive is but one of the South End Memorial Day activities featuring ceremonies at cemeteries in Clinton and Bayview, and an open house at the new Veterans Resource Center facility in Freeland.
The Poppy Girls’ primary mission has been to promote and distribute the free poppies to South End residents, in return hoping to receive donations that can go to support veterans’ programs.
This past weekend, Lindsay and Emma, with assistance from Langley Middle School seventh-graders Krista Drechsel and Allie VanWetter, collected more than $600 at the Clinton ferry.
This past week, the girls also met with Island County Comm-issioner Helen Price Johnson, who urged everyone to show support for veterans by wearing a poppy pin.
Lindsay’s parents are Jerry and Michele Feris. Her grandmother was a member of the Women’s Army Corps. One grandfather served in the Army; the other grandfather and an aunt are Navy veterans. Her uncle was in the Marines.
Emma’s father, Jimmy Leggett, also served in the Marines, and her mother, Diane Leggett, had grandfathers who were Navy veterans. Her great-grandmother was an Army nurse during World War I.
“It’s a really good experience, and I’m very honored that they chose me to do it,” Lindsay said.
On Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, the girls will lay wreaths during a ceremony at Bayview Cemetery, hosted by American Legion Post 141. The ceremony starts at 11 a.m., with a potluck to follow at the Legion hall.
Meanwhile, poppy pins are still available at the Eagles Aerie in Freeland, The American Legion in Langley and Bailey’s Corner Store in Clinton, said Libby McCauley of the Auxiliary.
“Every one is made by hand by veterans,” she said.
More than 25 million poppies are made annually by disabled veterans and distributed by local Auxiliaries. Donations collected provide financial and therapeutic benefit for the veterans as well as their families.
The memorial poppies date back to World War I and the battlefields of France, where the flowers bloomed red amid the blood and destruction in places where many soldiers died.
Elsewhere, a Memorial Day ceremony honoring veterans will also be at 11 a.m. at the Clinton Cemetery. Guest speaker will be state Rep. Norma Smith, and other participants will include members of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a quartet from the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Langley.
Meanwhile, veterans and their families are invited to an open house from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Veterans Resource Center, 1796 Main St. in Freeland.