Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It was established after the Civil War as a time to place flowers on the graves of those who had given their life during the war. The day was celebrated at the end of May to allow for blooming of flowers to place on graves.
The Poppy came into favor based on a poem written by a Canadian Army colonel during WWI. “In Flander Fields” was written to commemorate the many soldiers that died on the Flander battlefields in an area between Belgium and France. In the poem, theColonel described how the poppies grew among the rows of graves.
Two women, Anna E Guerin in France and Moina Michael in the state of Georgia in the United States, were so impressed with the poem, they sold artificial poppies to help orphaned children, or people who were left in poverty due to the war. In 1922, Ms. Michael turned to the VFW (Veterens of Foreign War), for help in making the Memorial Day poppy official.
You can buy the official poppy of the Flanders Fields which is a symbol of the American Legion. The red poppy if probably the world’s most popular wildflower and is available in the pure red strain at http://www.americanmeadows.com/WildflowerSeeds/Species/RedPoppyseedsallredsingle.aspx