BARK RIVER - When six-year-old Danica Peterson concludes her year-long representation as Poppy Girl for the Rheaume-Knauf American Legion Post 438 of Bark River at the end of May, she will end a long-standing family tradition.
When she was selected to represent the Auxiliary, she was following in the footsteps of her four older siblings, Vanessa, Cheridan, Grace, and Alaska. All are the daughters of Dan and Cyanne Peterson of Bark River.
Vanessa, now 18, was the Poppy Girl in 2002 at the age of 8. Sister Cheridan was selected in 2006 at the age of 7. She is now 14. Eleven-year-old Grace was 7 years old when she was selected as Poppy Girl in 2008. Alaska, now 9, was Poppy Girl in 2009 at the age of 5.
Cyanne and Dan Peterson of Bark River and their family of Poppy Girls: clockwise from left, Grace, 11; Vanessa, 18; Cheridan, 14; Alaska, 9; and Danica, 6.
While serving as Poppy Girl is definitely a tradition for the Peterson daughters, the honor began long before they started. Their aunt, Donna, was Poppy Girl in the early 1980s and their grandmother, Bonnie Peterson of Bark River got the ball rolling in the late 1950s when she was selected to represent the Post 438 Auxiliary.
When the new Poppy Girl for 2014 is selected in May, like the Peterson girls, among her duties will be to remind the public of the thousands of men and women who died for their freedom. The girls receive donations and distribute the small crimson-colored blossoms for donations during the annual Poppy Days in May. This event is a part of the American Legion Auxiliary's program to assist hospitalized veterans and their families. These veterans make the blossoms for a small wage.
The little red paper flower was officially adopted as the national symbol of remembrance for veterans in 1921.