Modern Farmer website:
Papaver rhoeas, also known as the common poppy, corn poppy and red weed, among other names, is considered a nuisance plant by European farmers and often grows in areas where the soil has been disturbed. In the warm spring months beginning in 1915, with World War I in full swing, across many of the shell-blasted, trench-strewn battlefields in Belgium, France, as well as in Turkey, poppy seeds (which can lie dormant for more than 80 years) began to germinate in the newly turned earth, and poppy flowers were soon dotting the war-ravaged landscape, including the frontlines where John McCrae, surgeon for the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery, was stationed.Lt. Col. McCrae, of course, was inspired by the sight of these blood-red poppies -- more so by the recent loss of a friend -- to write what has become the most famous poem about the war, "In Flanders Fields."
War is evil and ugly, but a few things are worse. Living in subjugation to dictators and tyrants ranks high on that list. So to those of you who put your own lives on the line to preserve the freedom of others: I cannot thank you enough.