For the past several years in the week leading up to Memorial Day, you would find a friendly and scruffy bearded Vietnam Veteran named Richard Dence selling Buddy Poppies at Joe’s Hardware. Richard, who walks with a cane, has dedicated his time to assist in raising funds for other veterans by selling Buddy Poppies.
The Buddy Poppy Program helps the Veterans of Foreign Wars live up to its motto, “to honor the dead by helping the living.” According to that organization, the red poppy grew abundantly over the graves of soldiers killed in France in World War I. Americans started selling paper versions to honor and help veterans. The handmade poppies are handed out as part of Poppy Days, a VFW fundraiser to help local veterans.
This might be Richard’s last year selling poppies as he has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Since then he has lost 55 pounds. Richard and his wife have emptied out their savings, but he continues to raise money for his fellow veterans while refusing to take a donation for himself.
Earlier this month, he finished six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy and is waiting to hear if another round is needed. He says, “there are other veterans who are worse off than me.”
Let’s support other veterans now until Memorial Day by stopping by Joe’s Hardware and honoring Richard Dence’s effort to raise funds for other veterans and pray that he becomes a cancer survivor and can help his fellow veterans for years to come.